As part of their world-building, many fiction authors, especially writers of fantasy and science fiction, pen songs that are sung by their characters. These can proclaim the great feats of heroes or simply be pub songs filled with nonsense. Fortunately, the lyrics to these pieces are written down for many a fan to set to music and create their own renditions.
But what about songs that have no lyrics? Some songs are so beyond words that the author might describe them for the reader, but because the moment is so bizarre or sublime, they could never be truly recreated.
We’d like to dedicate this Five Fandom Friday to Five Fictional Songs That We’ll Never Hear.
#5 – The Song of the Quarkbeast
The Last Dragonslayer Series by Jasper Fforde
Lily: Jennifer Strange is the main character in The Last Dragonslayer books, and she has an unusual pet, even for this universe. Well, “pet” might not be the correct term, because she couldn’t get rid of her Quarkbeast even if she wanted to. A Quarkbeast is a quantum type of being often described as: “One-tenth Labrador, six-tenths Velociraptor, and three-tenths kitchen food blender.” When two opposite Quarkbeasts meet, they start to sing their mating song. Oh, and when they touch, there is an explosion of enormous force.
If you were to hear the song of the Quarkbeast, it would likely be the last thing you ever heard:
“Others who have heard it are now little more than dust. But if I was about to die, then I was glad to have heard the song. It was lonely — one of lament, of unknown knowledge. A song of resignation, of poetry given and received. The small movements that the Quarkbeasts made as they padded around each other altered the hum so subtly that it sounded like an alto bassoon, but with one single note, infinitely variable.
“But it wasn’t a song of peace, love, or happiness. It was a requiem — for all of us.” (Chapter 24: Risk of Confluence, The Song of the Quarkbeast)
#4 – The Songs from the Alien Planet Rakhat
The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell
Maria: In Russell’s novel, the SETI program at Arecibo Observatory discovers radio broadcasts of music from an alien planet in a distant galaxy in 2019. This mesmerizing music then triggers events that lead to a group of humans travel to the planet Rakhat and the first human-alien contact.
Earlier this year, I finished this novel and it may or may not have entered my top 10 novels of all time. I’m not sure if I reeeally want to hear the music of the alien race Jana’ata knowing the full story (hooo boy hoo boy), but the very idea of hearing music from an alien race is too tempting. Maybe, during my lifetime this might come true… who knows.
#3 – Song of the Dragons
Lily: When the darkspawn find an Old God and corrupt it, transforming it into an Archdemon, it leads them in an attack on the surface world. The darkspawn mostly dwell underground when they are not raiding Thedas, always searching for other Old Gods. They are drawn to their location by the song of the dragons.
Unlike the rest of our list, you would think that a video game would provide an opportunity for a player to hear this song, but at best, we only catch distorted fragments. These can be heard in the form of nightmares that grow more frequent as a Warden is tainted by the darkspawn blood they consumed at The Joining, their initiation ritual.
The Grey Wardens are not be envied, because when the song reaches its crescendo, they must participate in a ritual known as The Calling in which they descend underground to kill as many darkspawn as possible before being slain in battle. If not, they are ultimately doomed to join the ranks of the foes they fought so long and so hard against.
There was a stir within his blood
And the dreams lay thick upon him.
A call did beat within his heart.
One road was left before him.
(Codex entry: Shred of Blue)
#2 – The Song of Earth from the Campaign to Save the Humans
So Long, and THanks for All The Fish by douglas Adams
Lily: In the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the dolphins of earth sing “So Long and Thanks for All The Fish” before they bid the humans farewell prior to Earth’s demolition. The book So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish, however, describes a gift-wrapped fishbowl that turns up at Arthur Dent’s house with those famous words engraved on its beautiful silver-gray glass. When he is finally clued in by Wonko the Sane to hold it up to his ear, he hears a beautiful song of the Earth’s destruction and its ultimate restoration. And it goes a little something like this:
“The deep roar of the ocean.
The break of waves on farther shores that thought can find.
The silent thunders of the deep.
And from among it, voices calling, and yet not voices, humming trillings, wordlings, and half-articulated songs of thought.
Greetings, waves of greetings, sliding back down into the inarticulate, words breaking together.
A crash of sorrow on the shores of Earth.
Waves of joy on–where? A world indescribably found, indescribably arrived at, indescribably wet, a song of water.
A fugue of voices now, clamoring explanations, of a disaster unavertable, a world to be destroyed, a surge of helplessness, a spasm of despair, a dying fall, again the break of words.
And then the fling of hope, the finding of a shadow Earth in the implications of enfolded time, submerged dimensions, the pull of parallels, the deep pull, the spin of will, the hurl and split of it, the fight. A new Earth pulled into replacement, the dolphins gone.
Then stunningly a single voice, quite clear.
‘This bowl was brought to you by the Campaign to Save the Humans. We bid you farewell.'” (Chapter 31, So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish)
#1 – The Music of the Ainur
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. TOlkien
Lily: The Ainur are the first beings created by Ilúvatar (aka Eru), and they originally sang for him in solos or small groups. Eventually, Ilúvatar brought them all together, gave them a theme, and compelled them to sing Great Music in harmony together to create the world.
“Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and organs, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Ilúvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Ilúvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.” (The Music of the Ainur, Ainulindalë, The Silmarillion)
Of course, Melkor just had to go off-key, creating discord and dissonance, bringing turbulence and violence and war. So, it might not exactly be your kind of jam.
Can you think of any other songs from fiction that would be impossible for us to actually listen to? Please share them in the comments below!
You can check out all of our past 5 Fandom Friday posts here, and we’d love to know if you have any suggestions for future topics!