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Khazad-dûm Report: May 6, 1990

Khazad-dûm Discussion Group Report
May 6, 1990, Khazad-dûm Spring Picnic
Reported by Ellie Farrell

Reprinted from Mythprint Volume 27 Number 8 (Whole #122), August 1990.

This year’s Khazad-dûm Spring Picnic, held Sunday, May 6, at Cerrito Vista Park in El Cerrito, was an unusually rousing success. There were 12 and a half attendees (the half being young Harold Harrigan III, who, although only 14 months old, is already the size of a small hobbit), and more food than we could consume. Frankie’s peach cobbler was a particularly favorite item. Even the weather cooperated. (Last year it was marginal, and once we’d unloaded the food in Chrys’s living room, we were all disinclined to move outside!) I read the traditional pickle fable – “The Picnic: A Parody of Tolkien” by Paulette Carroll – and David took over as DJ for a selection of tapes.

Our discussion topic (always loosely adhered to at these functions) was “Fantasy in Music: The Sequel” (to last year’s “Music in Fantasy”). We heard excerpts of Johan de Meij’s Symphony No. 1 for Band: “The Lord of the Rings”, which we all enjoyed, even though the section on Lothlórien sounded more like jungle music than an Elvish woodland air. Other musical contributions included Todd Barton’s Kesh music composed for Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, Celtic harpist and storyteller Robin Williamson’s Music for the Mabinogi, and original and folk songs by Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior, and Mythopoeic Society members Lynn Maudlin and Lee Ann Hussey. David brought along a tape by Canadian harpist Loreena McKennitt, who was a featured performer at Mythcon XX in Vancouver last summer. And as an added Inklings touch, we heard John Cleese read one of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters (and some Callard and Bowser commercials, but that is more of a Monty Python touch).

The sun, cool breeze, and view of San Francisco Bay added to the enjoyment of good food and music, if not actually to any particularly original insights into the role of fantasy in music, except that it is universal, from opera and ballet to folk and filk, and even Led Zeppelin on occasion. When written or played or sung from the heart, such music complements the more usual written fantasy forms, prose or poetry, and stimulates both our emotions and our imaginations.