Soundtrack: Pirates of the Caribbean, the entire thing spanning all the movies
Movement (music): A unit of a larger work that may stand by itself as a complete composition. Such divisions are usually self-contained. Most often the sequence of movements is arranged fast-slow-fast or in some other order that provides contrast.
-Benward & Staker (2009), Music in Theory and Practice: Vol. II
Brook stood in front of a mirror trying to tame his unruly hair into some semblance of order. He was already dressed in his nice clothes, free of dirt stains or tears that normally ravaged his garments. Tonight was special, and he had to look perfect.
"Brook, it's time to go!" came his mother's shout from downstairs. Eagerly, Brook sat his comb down and rushed down to where his parents and brother were waiting. His father looked him up and down with a critical eye, before nodding in satisfaction. His mother took one look at his hair before frowning.
"Someone needs another haircut," she said. Brook just shrugged. It didn't really matter how often he got his hair cropped, it always came back as wild as ever, and he looked dumb with short hair. His brother had put it perfectly when he had compared his shaved head to a lumpy egg.
"Dear, he looks fine. We'll be late if we don't hurry," Father said as he looked at his watch. His mother gave a small sigh before patting his head half-heartedly, as if that would put his curls back in place.
"Alright then. Boys are you ready?" she asked.
"Yes Mother," they chorused, Brook with much more enthusiasm than his brother.
As a family they loaded themselves into a waiting carriage. Brook could hardly keep from wiggling in excitement; for tonight was the night he was going to see his first opera.
"Master Day, this is boring. Why do I have to learn boring things?" Brook asked as he looked at the complicated mess of notes his fussy teacher was trying to get him to learn.
"Piano lessons are not boring! Music is…music is humanity's attempt at pouring out their emotions. It is art and science, order and chaos, it…it is the expression of our very souls!" the short, fat man exclaimed from his chair as he dabbed his brow with a silk handkerchief.
"Then why is it boring? Who cares what clef that is, or what key this was, or chord progressions? It's dumb!"
"You are just saying that because it's hard. All things worth doing require work. You have a good ear, Mister Brook, but you are just starting to learn. If you keep at it, you will come to understand that music is the universal language," Master Day said dramatically.
"I thought that was math," Brook muttered.
"I heard that! Grr, what am I to do with insolent boys who refuse to learn?" he growled.
"Let me go outside and have fun?" Brook offered.
Master Day huffed, before glaring at his young charge. With great effort he got up from his chair before walking towards the door. In a moment of panic, Brook jumped up to follow. Mother would be very disappointed in him if Master Day told her he had been bad! After all, his brother had to suffer through three years of lessons himself. To expand his horizons or something like that.
But Master Day did not go to the big room where Mother and Father ran their business operations. Instead, he led Brook to the drawing room. There, he sat at the family's rarely used grand piano and opened it up.
And then he played a song that Brook had never heard before. It was fast and exciting, moving up and down the piano with speed that the young boy would never have expected from his overweight teacher. Brook was unable to stop staring, captivated by the tune. In his head he imagined a grand battle, full of proud warriors and noble heroes.
Just as suddenly as it started, the amazing song ended. After a dramatic final chord, Master Day shut the piano and pulled out his handkerchief.
"Well?" he asked as he wiped his forehead.
"That was amazing! What was that? The only stuff I get to listen to is slow stuff that Mother plays," Brook exclaimed.
"That was a piece that I adapted from an opera. Which, coincidently, I was only able to do due to my knowledge of music theory. The very subject you find to be such a bore."
"Huh, opera? Isn't that where fat old ladies scream at one another?"
"No! Opera is…story telling with music. It is a complex art; mixing dance, theatre, and musical talent."
"Isn't that where my parents go all the time, and they don't get back till real late?" Brook asked.
"Really late. You should use better grammar than that, Mister Brook. And yes, your parents are patrons of the arts. In fact, the very opera I just played from is at the theatre hall now," he said with a touch of wistfulness.
"Really, can I go see then?"
"That, young man is something you must take up with your parents. Now enough of this, let's get back to our lesson!"
"Do I have to?"
"Yes! Chop, chop young man. We will continue until I am satisfied with your work."
"I can't believe you wanted to see a stupid opera," Brook's brother muttered from the seat beside him.
"Shut up Sanford!" Brook hissed.
"You don't know what you've gotten yourself into. Hours of stuff you can't even understand, stuck in uncomfortable clothes and rock hard chairs," he drawled, voice just low enough to be out of reach from their parents.
"You don't know anything. Look, we're way up high, and there's a whole orchestra and everything. Plus, it's about pirates. That's awesome, right?"
"As your much older, much wiser brother I feel obligated to tell you that you are wrong. This is about pirates that sing at one another while dressed up in funny costumes. It's awful, and I still can't believe you talked Mother and Father into letting you come."
"Boys, hush. It's about ready to start. Remember, we are representing our entire family and business while we are out. I expect you both on your best behaviors," Brook's mother said in her low you had better listen to me voice that they knew that was best not trifled with.
"Good. Now here are your glasses," she said before handing the pair of them little binoculars.
"All the better to see you with," Sanford said in a funny voice as he glared at his brother through the lenses, causing Brook to giggle.
Before their mother could say anything else, the lights dimmed and the curtain lifted. The flutes began playing a soft, melodious tune before being added by the strings. The lead actress gracefully swept across the stage, singing in a language that Brook did not know. On one side Sanford settled into his chair with a final grumbled, and on the other Brook's parents were the picture of polite attention. Brook aped them, putting the little binoculars to his face for a better view.
The first part wasn't very interesting. The lady was joined by a man (who was probably her boyfriend or something, without knowing what they were saying it was impossible to tell) before they were dramatically pulled apart. But then a whole group of people came on and danced and did funny things, which in Brook's opinion was much better.
In his head, Brook made up dialogue that matched the music. To him, Lady Sings-Very-High was pining her lost love, peasant boy Mister Also-Sings-Very-High. Then an evil pirate captain kidnapped her for his nefarious plans, making Mister Also-Sings-Very-High go rescue her.
Brook was about ready join his brother in a nap, when the orchestra music started to swell. He recognized the tune as the one Master Day had played on the piano earlier. On stage a grand fight was breaking out between the pirates and the maybe-boyfriend. The two factions clashed with lots of fake looking fighting, and the maybe-boyfriend quickly knocked out the pirate captain's lackeys before turning on the man himself.
When Master Day had played the song it had been fast and exciting, but it had just been a piano. Now the strength of a full orchestra was behind the song, so even though the actors really did more singing at one another than sword fighting, it was awesome. The strings dueled against the brass instruments, with the timpani drums keeping pace and the woodwinds weaving itself through the piece. In the back round the backup singers were singing an ominous theme that made it all sound dangerous.
Then, at the point of the song where Master Day had abruptly stopped, the maybe-boyfriend got stabbed, right through the chest with the pirate captain's sword. Everything stopped as he got his last song before dying, and even though Brook didn't know what words the man was saying he understood their meaning.
After the climax the opera wrapped up quickly, with the lady able to go home only to never forget her first love. Brook was stunned, and when the curtains lowered and the lights came back on he almost forgot to stand up and clap with everyone else.
With a jolt Sanford woke up, quickly joining the applause. He caught the look on his brother's face, before grinning.
"I told you it was awful," he snickered.
Brook slowly shook his head, "You're wrong. It was beautiful," he whispered back to his older brother, who could only stare at him in shock. Beside him, his mother gave the boys a small smile before leading them out of the theatre.
That night, Brook went to sleep to the sound of opera music replaying itself over and over in his head.
"This is quite the change Mister Brook. Just last week you couldn't bear to even look at musical theory, and now you're attacking it with such fever. I'm proud of you," Master Day said warmly.
"I've decided that I want to be a musician," the boy replied, nose deep in his book.
"Oh, is that right now? And what have your parents said about this?" inquired his teacher.
"I haven't told them yet. Everyone in my family does business, and that's what I'm supposed to do when I get bigger. But if I get really, really good at music and can play perfectly, than they won't be able to stop me! It's a perfect plan," he replied, clearly thrilled at his own brilliance.
"I see," Master Day said. He, of course, had heard this before with other students. They quickly grew disinterested or frustrated enough that they eventually quit. But the older man considered it a success that he had sparked even the smallest of interest in his student.
"Hey Master Day, what's this word, magnum opus? It sounds funny."
"Ah, Mister Brook, that is a magnificent word. It means 'great work', and is a composer's best, most famous, greatest, most recognized work. Many strive years, if not decades, on it. Some never achieve it; others go insane trying to discover it. It is a powerful thing, and can define a life time's work in a single piece. The opera you saw, for example, was that composer's magnum opus," was Master Day's passionate reply.
Brook looked up from his book and at his teacher, "A life time's work. That sounds hard."
"My dear boy, it is. But some would say that it is more about the journey, rather than the end product. Who you are shapes what you do, and vice versa."
"That sounds complicated."
"Mister Brook, life is nothing if not complicated. Now back to the lesson, we were learning about the great composers of the pre-Industrial period…"
As Master Day babbled on about different people, Brook daydreamed about one day being a famous musician, whose magnum opus was famous throughout the four blues and the Grand Line.
He didn't care what his family said; he was going to be a musician. He wanted to be like that singer and inspire feeling with just his voice, and play so well that he would put the people in the orchestra to shame without really trying hard.
He would find his magnum opus, no matter how long it took. Master Day said it was a journey, and fussy and prickly as the old man was he was generally right about such things. That meant that this, right now, was just the first movement of his journey, and Brook was determined to make it count.
AN: This will be a series of interconnecting one shots; telling Brook's story from boyhood to skeleton in (hopefully) chronological order. Each will be able to stand alone, but it's my hope that they'll build on one another. I've got this pretty well planned out, so updates should be semi regular.
Last but not least, this is dedicated to all those music lovers out there that know how to have fun with their craft. Music (in all its forms) should be awesome, not a drag. Rock on, musicians, rock on!