“There he wandered long in a dream of music that turned into running water, and then suddenly into a voice.”
My students completed their two-day intensive writing workshop with percussionist Dr. Cory Hills (http://splatboombang.com) today. They finished their original stories inspired by Tolkien and set them to percussion music. I have included their recorded performances below and also the text, in case you are not able to hear the stories over the instruments.
The first part of our original Tolkien trilogy was called The Epic Adventure of the Dwarves, written by Bifur, Oin, Thorin, and Fili, also known as The Smaug Group. This story seems to be a partial-summary, of The Hobbit, but choosing to take some twists and turns that Tolkien didn’t take.
“Once there was a dragon named Smaug, and he stole all of his gold from the dwarves. He took the gold back to his cave in the Misty Mountains. The dwarves were very angry, so they went to hunt Smaug down.
It was quite an adventure. They brought food, weapons, a map, and a compass. Their leader was Thorin.
On the way, they got ambushed by trolls. They fought them with their strength and weapons.
Finally, they saw Smaug’s cave. There was a furry monster with a wobbly chin. They killed the monster and got to Smaug.
They wanted to get their gold back. They were scared.
Smaug hid in a pile of gold. He heard noises, woke up and breathed fire at them. They used shields to block the fire, but their pants got burned.
Bilbo was waiting to shoot the special scale on Smaug’s chest. He hit his target, so Smaug died, and they got their gold back. “
The middle section of our trilogy, was provided by The Shire, also known as Balin, Gloin, Kili, Ori, and Nori. They chose to write a story called Bad Bilbo, which, as you will see, casts poor Bilbo in a rather negative light.
“The Shire was a wonderful place, until Bilbo Baggins came. Everyone could smell his hairy feet and it made the whole Shire stink. People fainted.
When Bilbo adopted cute, little Frodo, Frodo couldn’t live with him because Bilbo’s face had another person attached!
Poor little Frodo thought that Bilbo was turning into Gollum. Bilbo also couldn’t cook, and poor Frodo thought the food tasted like poisonous mushrooms. He also thought Bilbo smelled like mushrooms.
Poor, cute, little Frodo found out that Bilbo was turning into a cannibal-an old and stinky cannibal.
He got everyone out of the Shire and everyone was happy, especially cute, little, and non-stinky Frodo. “
Our trilogy concludes with a rap, perhaps inspired by some of Tolkien’s songs, written by emerging hip-hop artists The Hobbit Bros (Dwalin, Bilbo, Bombur, and Bofur) called The Big, Bad Gollum.
” Hey Gollum, Hey Gollum, you got a big head.
Yo mama told you to, “go to bed!”
You gonna self-destruct in one more sec.
Why did you come back, man, “What the heck?!”
You got no powers, you got no home.
No one’s gonna call you on the phone.
You lost your precious, you got no ring.
And one day Aragorn’s gonna be the king!
This song is never stoppin’.”
Although my students’ creations venture far off Tolkien’s path, they embraced the freedom to do so and were obviously greatly influenced by the effect Tolkien is having on them. My students are proving that they are allowing their literary pursuits to move them beyond the page and even though the directions Tolkien’s characters took was very different in their stories, they clearly have captured the essence of these beloved characters in many ways.
My students thoroughly enjoyed their two days with Cory and his indulgence in their taste for Tolkien. I think he was truly impressed with their enthusiasm and knowledge of both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and was happy to have deepened their understanding of the powerful connection between language and music. As Oin concluded at the end of class today, “music is a language!” Thank you, Cory, for taking the time for my students and providing all of us with an experience we will not soon forget.