A/N – In Imladris, in the Hall of Fire, Elrond thinks on Maglor and the legacy of his music.
Disclaimer – LotR and the Silmarillion are all property of the Tolkien Estate.
Echoes of Old Songs
The Hall of Fire was warm and sheltered on a winter's night, a haven of music and art in a rapidly darkening world. Here, the elves of Imladris would gather to tell tales and pass on stories, to play their newest creations or perform works of creators long gone, their music and poetry their only legacy.
As Elrond listened, sipping rich, mulled wine, he could hear a harpist practicing a delicate, complex web of harmony and melody, each note perfectly and elegantly placed. He remembered that piece, remembered picking it out, slowly, a not-quite-child on a harp too big for him –
"Yes, that's it. Don't go too quickly; each note must fall in its precise place."
A courtly dance of Tirion, it was, written for graceful dancers and stately palaces. It had been ridiculously out of place in the wild, brutal wastes of Beleriand.
As the notes flowed more smoothly, the precise, measured cadence gave way to richer, stronger melody, pathos and imagery swelling as the harpist moved to something simpler and yet much more powerful.
"The most powerful songs – the ones that resonate most with us - come from the heart and soul, not the mind. Melody, metre, theory – the bare bones are technique and mathematics, but music is more than skill and passionless intellect…"
Save for Daeron, the lore master of the Sindar, Maglor Feanorion was accounted the greatest bard in the history of the Eldar. His greatest songs and poems were masterpieces of deceptively simple complexity, gloriously woven harmonies and interlocking melodies, shaped – as most Noldor shaped their art – with great skill and even greater passion.
The Noldolante, so achingly simple, was none of these things. And that, perhaps, was why it endured so long after its creation, when his other, more technically sophisticated music was overlooked or forgotten. Thousands of years after Alqualonde, the Eldar still wept when they heard the lament for paradise lost…
By the fire the harpist faltered, the music slowing to a halt as he slowly drew his fingers from the strings. In the half-light, Elrond could almost imagine a tall, dark, haunted elf-Lord, his fingers long, strong, beautiful, faltering as the power of his own music overtook him.
"I'm sorry, pen-neth. Sometimes… the memories…"
After a moment of silence, a brief hesitation, the music resumed; gay and sprightly this time, a playful, frivolous ditty filled with puns, double entendres and alliteration. But underneath the laughter in the hall, the echoes of the Noldolante remained, a bittersweet undercurrent of grief, the ever-present memory of sorrow and loss that lay within all of them.
The most powerful songs, after all, were those that resonated with the heart and soul, not with the mind…