I wasn’t exactly thrilled to hear that owls had such dark connotations. I’d always thought of them as wise, maybe even rustic. I guess I missed this little detail when I was reading up on Celtic stories. Either way, Stefan seemed content that the owl I’d let into the house had no ill will towards me.
I decided not to tell him about the dream. I should say dreams– plural. I mean, I wasn’t going to invite my friends up to the house if I actually thought anything weird was going to happen while they were there.
Once I’d finished painting his nails, Stefan had me boot up his computer so he could show me a few of the songs he’d written, plus the playlist he’d come up with. I made Sure he added a couple more that were definitely worthy of being heard at Club Nightshade, including my favorite Sisters of Mercy song.
“Oh, hey,” he said all of a sudden, as though suddenly remembering something, “did you bring your oboe?”
I blinked, trying to determine whether he was being serious. “Was I supposed to?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “I was just curious. I remember how we used to practice together.”
“Ohhhh… you were interested in a duet,” I said, eyeing him knowingly.
“You see right through me, don’t you Leila?”
“Only some of the time.”
“So… Here’s the thing: I wrote a song recently that has two different tunes for oboe. I was going to to play each one separately, record them, and then layer them in my music software, but…”
“But you want to see–or hear– if it would make a difference if both were recorded together?”
He gave me a wide grin.” I had a feeling you’d understand.”
“You should have told me,” I said. “I would have gladly brought it to play with you!”
His grin widened– if you can believe his mouth was big enough to do That. “I might have just the thing!” he hopped out of his chair and took off for his bedroom. I could hear a lot of noise, so wandered over to See what he was up to.
“You’re going to chip that nail polish I just put on you,” I warned him, only partially serious.
“This is worth it!” Stefan pulled a black plastic case from the top shelf of his closet and presented it to me.
I gave a wary look and snapped open the box. After peeking inside, I glanced back to his desk, where his oboe sat on its stand. “You have two?”
He nodded, still grinning. “That’s my older one, the one I learned with back in grade school. The one on my desk is my professional one. So? Will you play with me?”
I smiled up at him. “Of course I will.”
The song he’d written had several layers to it, and most of them were electronically generated. He liked to record himself playing whenever he could, and now he’d written something even more ambitious. He loaded up the file in between putting the oboe together and testing it out. Once it was loaded, he pulled up the sheet music for each oboe.
“This line is what I’ve been calling the upper path.” He played it for me, demonstrating the higher notes and the tune that seemed like it was off on an adventure.
“I like it,” I told him with a smile. “It reminded me of the start of Final Fantasy VI, but a little more…”
“You always have such a way of describing music,” he said. “It must come from the fact that you’re a writer, too.”
I shrugged. “Maybe.” Then I looked over at the other lines of music. “Those are some really low notes.”
“Yep,” he agreed. “That’s the lower path.” He played the lower path, which was slow and dark and… well, just short of creepy.
“What do you think?” he went on. Then he suggested, “Do you want to play the upper path?”
“I’ll give it a whirl.”
After a practicing a few times, I started to get the hang of the song. It wasn’t terribly long, and it did have a couple reprisals. Then we practiced playing together, and I realized that there were points when the tunes were played together, sometimes the same notes, sometimes complementary. There were also times when one tune rested while the other went on, and after some overlap, they switched places. By the end of the song, the lower notes seemed to be chasing the higher ones, and the higher notes were lifting the others out of the depths.
“What is it?” Stefan asked when he realized I was staring at him.
“Wow…” I said. I caught myself, not wanting to sound dumb. “You’re incredible at writing music. I could never come up with a song like that.”
He gave me a warm smile. “Some of us write words, some of us write songs. In the end, they’re both made up of sounds and notes.”
“You do have a way with words when the timing is right,” I told him.
He smirked, and we went back to practicing more. We eventually got to recording, and managed to record a few good play-throughs before lunch time. Stefan could edit the rest together later– another day, when he didn’t have a big debut to make.
“What’s the name of your song, by the way?” I asked as he saved the files and started getting ready to head out to lunch.
He shrugged. “I haven’t really settled on anything yet.”
“Hmmm…” I thought as I looked over the sheet music again. Then I noticed the file name. “Are you sure? I mean, this sounds like it suits it really well.”
“What does?” He slipped on his shoes and tied them in a hurry before coming back over to the computer. “Oh, that’s just–“
“‘Sleipnir’s Dream’?” I said the file name out loud. “I think that’s a perfect name for this song.”
Some minuets on oboe: