• Member Since 15th Jul, 2016
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The Golden Crane flies for Tarmon Gai'don.


Join me, come join me...

Adagio has one last song in her, but no voice to sing it with.

A present for NaiadSagaIotaOar.

Artwork by SkycatcherEquestria.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 43 )

First comment doubling as author’s notes. More notes here.

Sirens have one weakness, both in mythology (Odysseus) and in canon (Vinyl Scratch) – those who can’t hear. One person being immune to your spell is potentially all it takes to be your undoing, especially when they’re the person you sleep next to.

So, when taking the view that the sirens are immortal, and have been on earth for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, I hold that Adagio found true love exactly once, and she had to leave him behind. And she might be being a little self-centered here when she says that them losing their voices is the arts crime of the millennium, because even greater is surely that the Shakespeare of Music never heard the most important of his own works.

So I think the Viennese waltz is irrevocably tied up for her with the memory of their courtship, being the dance of choice in Vienna in 1800. And the one thing I think even more devastating for her than having to flee Vienna was learning of String Quartet No. 14, Op. 131, fifteen years later.

It’s hard to imagine today what music must have been like back then. An art form designed around structured templates, based on rules rather than expression. One man changed all that.

Hence his comparison with Shakespeare. “Scarcely any significant composer since his time has escaped his influence or failed to acknowledge it. For the respect his works have commanded of musicians, and the popularity they have enjoyed among wider audiences, he is probably the most admired composer in the history of Western music.” Sadie, S. (eds.) (1995) The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, in 20 volumes, Fifth Edition.

And, among his body of work, this most influential of men had a favourite composition, the one he thought most groundbreaking: a string quartet built of seven movements, with three on each side framing the massive centrepiece fourth movement.

And that fourth movement, in turn, is subdivided into seven variations, and the central one of those – the heart of the heart of the most important piece of music ever written, which prompted Schubert to ask, "After this, what is left for us to write?"…

...is titled simply Adagio.

If Adagio had a voice with which to sing her song, it would sound like this.

This was a good piece to read. Emotional, introspective, haunting. You managed ttyl do a fantastic job capturing Adagio's voice here despite her lack of an audible one.

Also, I'm an absolute sucker for the headcanon where the sirens go mute after losing their gems, so that pulled me in immediately.




Of all the stories you’ve talked about with me, I think there have been two that I most desperately wanted to see written. This was one of them.

It was worth the wait :raritycry: I don’t know what more to say about it than that--I can count at least two or three images, some big and pronounced and some small and fleeting, a piece of backstory, and several lines that all would’ve enriched another story and made it memorable, but here it’s like you’ve thrown it all together and wrapped it up with prose that’s felt more beautiful than anything I’ve seen you do before.

Thank you :heart:

As a dancer myself, I loved this fic. It captures the feeling of dancing really well, and I loved all the dance terms and references, specifically the ballet and pointe moves. The Queen of the Night gag was also a nice touch.

This story better get feature.

9014720 Thanks very much! I remember being struck with this idea while reading Fading Melodies, which was a great story, but I felt could have gone a bit further with it, which is what I tried to do here.

I was going to say that there was another voiceless one I really liked, but then I realised you’re the guy who wrote it :twilightsheepish: You created something meaningful and lovely for a contest I only trolled :twilightblush:

Writing Adagio again was fun! She’s my favourite character, but it seems I’ve hardly written from inside her head for not far off two years :twilightoops: So it was really good to rectify that!

9014754 :yay:

Of course you are very welcome :twilightsmile: I’m really happy you liked it! :pinkiehappy:

I think I can guess two of the images? And the backstory bit is the having to flee Vienna thing?

Here it’s like you’ve thrown it all together and wrapped it up with prose that’s felt more beautiful than anything I’ve seen you do before

I think that might be your influence? :twilightsheepish: Adagio here is more classical than I’d write her, I think, especially as I tend to go for the angle of them being teenagers.

9014888 :raritystarry: For realsies?

I did wonder what any dancers might make of it, and quite how much I mangled things :twilightsheepish: I did pick up a lot of respect for all the styles mentioned here, while I was doing research. I thought the discipline of classical musicians was enviable, but they’ve got nothing on ballet dancers :rainbowhuh: I hadn’t given much thought before either to how one might choreograph a ballet, but coming up with the moves to match the music was rather inspiring to write, especially the six pirouettes. What styles of dance do you perform, if you don’t mind me asking?

Thanks! I ummed and ahhed about whether to include the musical influences bit, so thanks for saying you appreciated it :twilightsmile: I was listening to the Hammerklavier Sonata and wondering if that would work as Sonata’s thing, and the opening is kind of ‘her,’ but it’s a bit too audacious a work to be hers, so I threw in the joke about Sonata Form instead.

9015222 Thanks! I would not say no to that :twilightsheepish:

Which would be kind of ironic, for a story which concludes that audience size ultimately doesn’t matter as much as your friends :twilightblush:

Absolutely amazing! I am literally at a loss for words to say how sucked in and moved I was by this story.

I love your take on the Dazzlings. Love it.


It's a rare treat to see a story that alludes so believably with real-world history.

Really creative, with a lot of emotion behind it, but a bit too sad for my taste.

Remembering Aria ‘accidentally’ starting the Great Fire of London in the 1600s and pausing their departure to dance a jig.

...I feel like that should somehow surprise me, but it doesn't.

9015634 Thanks a lot! At a loss for words is kind of an unfortunately appropriate response to this one :twilightoops:

I would say this one is my headcanonical view of them, in which they’re teenagers rather than immortals and so a bit less tragic than here. I think that angle is better for stories set around CHS, but no way would this story have worked half as well like that. Plus, the song is called Immortal Melancholy, so there wasn’t much debating that one :twilightsheepish:

9015641 Thanks! That came to light when Naiad and I had just met and were planning our first story! It is nice to bring it up here, so it finally sees the light of day, two years on :twilightsheepish:

Yeah, that string quartet connection is really rather magical, I think :pinkiehappy:

9015755 Totally fair to say! And I’m surprised more people haven’t offered that view, too :twilightsheepish:

I must have had The Changing Tides on my Read It Later list for a year or so before I finally decided it would be a good day to read something that sad!

I take ballet, pointe, and musical theatre currently, and have also taken hip-hop before. I also like dabbling in bits and pieces of pretty much any kind of dance.

9016228 :raritystarry: Sounds like you must really know your stuff! I am really glad I didn't go for her doing pointe barefoot then, as I was thinking of before I came up with the excuse of the long-haired carpet! The internet said it was technically possible to stand that way, but dancing like that was a definite no.

I did look at some Hip Hop moves; I was looking at some videos and wondered about having a Hip Hop turn in there, or even having Sonata do some breakdancing during her solo freeform bit, but it didn't quite match the style of the rest of it in print :twilightoops:


Well done, good Sir and/or Madam... well done indeed, :moustache:

9021104 :pinkiegasp: I thought you had sailed for less-pony-filled shores!

And that I’d never get that particular badge posted on my work :fluttercry:

So thank you, kind pirate :pinkiehappy:

This is a fantastic story! I featured it on episode 228 of my podcast, Pony 411.

The lack of dialogue really works, love how history is tied into the lives of the Sirens, and it's just really moving. My co-host also likes the music choice you recommend at the beginning of the fic.

That doesn't mean I'm not still paying attention, :raritywink:

Also your choice of suggested music was bloody magnificent. This work is a beautiful example of how a blend of sound and written word can create an experience that neither could alone.

9021484 Thanks very much!

:pinkiegasp: And thank you so much for highlighting it on your podcast :pinkiehappy:

I don’t think I’ve ever been mentioned on a podcast before :rainbowhuh: It meant a lot more, I think, hearing your feedback spoken aloud than reading it in a comment, because you can really hear the passion coming through :raritystarry: Which, now I think about it, is a particularly unfortunate revelation to be connected to this story, since that’s exactly what Adagio is cut off from :twilightoops: Funnily enough, the other story you mentioned, by Summer Dancer, has been sitting on my read it later list for a few days :twilightsmile:

I think it would be fair to say the total lack of dialogue was a bold choice? As I mentioned below to the guy who wrote Voices Lost, I thought of the idea while reading Fading Melodies, which I’m pretty sure was the first story to do voiceless sirens. But I kind of thought that if you’re going to do a story about not being able to talk, then make it one with no talking, so you can kind of experience how it feels to be stuck inside someone’s head. Joss Whedon has this lovely idea that when we stop talking, we start communicating, and that kind of shows up here, especially when Adagio notes that it’s the first time in ages Aria and Sonata haven’t been throwing insults at each other.

That’s great to hear your co-host appreciated that! I wasn’t quite sure if that would work, with having to picture the music as described in the text while other music plays in the background (or rather, a different part of the same piece, since the chances of you reading at exactly the speed of the piece as described in the story are miniscule :twilightoops:). I’ve yet to try reading it myself while the music is playing, and don’t hold out much hope of being able to concentrate on it while doing so, so, however narcissistic it makes me sound, I’m a little jealous of your co-host’s ability to do that; he’s had an experience with the story that I haven’t :twilightsheepish:

If he liked the music in general, by the way, then I’d highly, highly recommend the 2003 reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, from which it comes. The soundtrack to the series, and the way the music integrated with the rest of it, was groundbreaking. As a trailer of sorts, here is its intro remade with ponies:

9021979 Thanks, I’m not sure the story would have been the same if not for those blog entries you did tying in with The Friend I Couldn’t Be, charting the sirens through human history :twilightsheepish:

It’s really quite a piece, that, isn’t it? I really can’t recommend the BSG soundtrack enough, especially season 3, whether you’re a fan of the show or not. Though that, too, is stunningly good! (And written by the head writer from DS9 and early Voyager, to match the uniform in your picture).

Indeed. Conveying meaningful character interaction with no dialogue is difficult, particularly when it's in text form. And you did it quite well. Funnily enough, I've read both of the fics you linked.

He's watched Battlestar Galactica in its entirety! In fact, after we were done recording he was complaining because one of the soundtracks was never released digitally. I personally watched the first 2 seasons, but then it was removed from Netflix. :twilightangry2: I watched the original series though.

9025856 Unless he means the soundtrack from the miniseries, I think I’ve got them all?

Well worth checking out the rest of it if you get the opportunity, I’d say! Can’t say I was much of a fan of the original, though. Lots of other sci-fi, but not so much that one :twilightsheepish:

Few seem to get that the Dazzlings are ancient beings. This story did, and did so nicely.

I’ve just finished re-reading this, and wow, it was not any less intense an experience the second time through. There was a moment that I don’t think I caught the first time through that really leapt out to me this time, though--that moment where Adagio nudges Aria towards acceptance just by looking at and dancing with her was profoundly beautiful.

Obviously, very very very biased, but I don’t think I can praise this enough, nor thank you profusely enough for making it happen :heart:

9060067 Thanks! :twilightsmile:

Over the last year I've come to appreciate the value of the siren-only story. At first most of the ones I read were the sirens reintegrating at CHS, whether learning friendship or remaining a thorn in everyone's side, and often being shipped with various Rainbooms. In that context, I think, it's much better that the sirens are teenagers. I think that fits better with the facts of Rainbow Rocks, and avoids the general creepy and pathetic nature of immortal villains hanging out with/becoming friends with/sleeping with teenagers.

But, thanks mostly to Naiad, I've come to appreciate that with stories that focus more on just the sirens themselves; such a wealth of depth can be explored if you bend canon a little bit so they're immortal and have been on Earth for a millennia or so. And it takes the bond between them from captivating to spellbinding. Opens up a lot of fun new story possibilities, too.

In those instances, though, I think it really is very important to emphasise their immortal nature, and how that sets them apart from humans. It pushes characterisation in certain directions, too, like another story I wrote in which Aria in particular is almost gleefully indifferent to the value of human life. So, having spent a while here getting frustrated at other authors writing sirens as immortal but acting like that isn't a big deal and doesn't change much, and being unable to address that in my early stories (since they followed the canon that the sirens were teenagers), I now dwell on it quite heavily whenever it comes up.

Thanks for the nice comment and the opportunity to discuss it! :pinkiehappy:

No problem! I don't mind Dazzling/Rainboom ships or interaction much, but there's none I particularly favor. However, just treating them as more everyday humans instead of mythical creatures and wily beings that are centuries old and above many human things is such an assassination to the characters. I may have only written them once, but it was something I enjoyed keeping in mind. If you like that kind of siren mythos, you should probably check out 'We Are What We Are' if you already haven't.

9066187 I really need to try that one again. I started reading it a couple of years ago, but stopped during the second chapter when it got really heavy on OCs. The one I’d recommend for all things immortal siren is Welcome to the Show, which is a bit ironic as Aria is the protagonist there and Adagio a little bit the antagonist, but not really, and I remember seeing your siren story before but passing over it because the description suggested Adagio would be more a force of conflict than someone we were supposed to be on side with. I will try giving it a read :twilightsmile:

Well thank you! I do hope you like it!

I'll be sure to check out the one you suggested. As for We Are What We Are, it uses a lot of OCs thrown in with all the Siren goodness, since most of the historical characters and modern EqG people aren't canon characters. I'd still really recommend it!

Author Interviewer

I'm going to have to disagree, I'm pretty sure you wrote this for me? And thank you? ;_;

Adagithoven is the pairing I didn't know I needed.

In any case, I have seen the sirens as monsters, conquerors, nuisances, the destitute, and even friendship students, but almost never as artists. Your portrayal of them as such is masterful, to say nothing of how you portray the bonds between them. You even redefine the witticism about how writing about music is like dancing about architecture. After all, Adagio's building a legacy with that final performance. :raritywink:

This is an incredible display of cross-medium artistry, and a wonderful eulogy for these characters. Siren fics are a relatively hard sell for me, but you made this work fantastically. Thank you for it.

I completely loved this story.

I completely agree with Paul on this one.

This story is absolutely beautiful and the musical accompaniment is just as beautiful.

I can't say anything that hasn't been said before other than I came in here a little skeptical. By the time I finished reading, the story has earned its place in my "Absolute Masterpieces" bookshelf.

Seriously, this story gets better the more you read it.

Signing out, VShuffler42

Finally got around to reading this because if the RCL contest. All I can really add is that I noticed the WoT reference there.

9680842 Ooh, that's the first I'd heard of the RCL contest, thanks for mentioning it!

:pinkiehappy: Which one was it you spotted?

You manage to absolutely nail everything I love about music here, and the emotions it can evoke. From melancholy to introspection, to the sexual, the passion. The sense of unity that music can bring out in people, to the frenzy of a crescendo. Through one piece of music, you take us through a journey.

Even the ending perfectly encompasses that odd sense of emptiness that can come at the end of a song, as though the part of you that sparked to life during the music now dies along with the fading chords. The not-quite-ambiguous ending puts that into words just wonderfully.

There’s so much to dig into: Adagio’s history, so much being said between the three without any dialogue at all, and the sheer gravity of the whole scene. This isn’t just a dance; this is Adagio coming to terms with mortality. An absolutely brilliant read, from start to finish.

I’m curious, though. Those references to Sonata and Aria, particularly the punk music coming from Aria’s bedroom at the start and the two staring at Adagio about halfway through – they wouldn’t happen to be nods of the head to Tethered-Angel’s Bullets, would they?

10114300 Thank you very much, this was a lovely comment to receive! :pinkiehappy:

I really like how you put things here, I hadn't consciously thought of it in those terms myself at times, so this was fascinating and enlightening.

Even the ending perfectly encompasses that odd sense of emptiness that can come at the end of a song, as though the part of you that sparked to life during the music now dies along with the fading chords.

This, in particular, resonated with me. You're absolutely right, there's that afterimage of feelings as the echoes in your own head fade, and you come back to reality. Music absolutely is a journey, and skipping to (or back to) 'the good bit' is never the same as hearing it through from the start. Also, perhaps that's part of why we applaud at concerts, because the roar of a crowd is the best way available to continue that euphoria and let the song bleed away into something positive.

The not-quite-ambiguous ending puts that into words just wonderfully.

Thanks, you've just helped me understand something here :twilightblush: I had this story in my head for the better part of two years before writing a word of it, and right from the start I knew I wanted the opening and closing sentences to be the same, about the silence in the bedroom and the memories of the music that had been. But I never really thought about why. And it was only coming back to reread it several months later that I questioned it, wondered why that had been so important. None of my other stories echo their opening lines like that, and the rest of this story is all one scene, so the short epilogue is a strange choice rather than ending it on the poignant moment of Adagio's journey ending. Not a choice I ever regretted, I mean, but one I whose necessity I struggled to put into words.

But you managed it, and I understand it now! It's the silence between the songs, always the same in physical signature but different each time in experience, as how we perceive it is shaped by the anticipation of what's to come and the memory of what's just been.

Those references to Sonata and Aria, particularly the punk music coming from Aria’s bedroom at the start and the two staring at Adagio about halfway through – they wouldn’t happen to be nods of the head to Tethered-Angel’s Bullets, would they?

Ooh, interesting comparison! Tethered is one of my closest friends around these parts, and I liked Bullets a lot, though must admit I haven't reread it since it first came out. And there are numerous references in this story to others both on fimfiction and published in print. But no, that bit isn't one of them, that one was all me :twilightsheepish: Incredibly loud punk music for days on end is exactly how I think Aria would deal with the situation! The fimfiction reference I remember most prominently is a reference to my favourite moment in Naiad's story To Extinguish the Dawn:

Adagio didn’t wait for a response, nor did she get one. She just drew closer, then sent a spike of agony into Aria’s brain when she dipped a sharp hoof into an open wound. “Do you want to live forever? You can be beautiful, just like me. You can be feared, just like your queen. You won’t have to live your life for anyone but yourself.”

Weariness made Aria want to keep her eyes closed, but pain drove her to open them, and when she did, they immediately glued themselves to a second ruby pinched between Adagio’s hooves.

“What are you, Aria? The world will not remember soldiers. Your queen’s already forgotten about you.” Adagio drew closer still. “Leave a scar behind you, not a corpse.”

Weakly, the world growing dim around her, Aria reached out towards the ruby.

And the more times I read that, the more that moment, in a story that was otherwise fairly quiet, strikes me as perfectly encapsulating what makes a siren.

Thanks again for your kind words and detailed, thoughtful comment :twilightsmile:

Wow, thanks! I always try to browse the comments for exactly this reason - it's fascinating to hear about an author's mindset and goals when writing a story (particularly one as introspective as this), so the fact that you're willing to give a reply, let alone one as detailed as this, means a lot.

The whole "music is a journey" aspect comes through in spades, both in the obvious crescendos and interludes that you describe, but also in the way Adagio almost bleeds her way through history and culture in her dancing. I say this as someone with absolutely no formal knowledge or tuition in dance or music so take that for what it's worth, but seeing some of the other comments from those who do, kudos for being able to appeal to both the layperson and the professional.

Wow, I... I never expected that my note on the ending helped you understand something. I'm going to come clean, at first I had no idea what to make of the ending, I only knew that it suited that melancholic-but-at-ease tone of the whole story a hell of a lot better than lol they dead. But it really grew on me the more I thought about it. And, hell, I think you helped me understand something as well with what you said:

...how we perceive it is shaped by the anticipation of what's to come and the memory of what's just been.

That's a great way of putting it as closure to the journey. It's not so much an end, but it's moving on, and not just euphemistically. "The memory of fading motes of perfect symphonies", indeed...

Apologies for seeing a link to Bullets that wasn't there, hope that didn't come across as lessening your own work. I'll admit it took me completely by surprise as well - I only considered it when my mental image of Aria & Sonata during that scene instinctively gave Aria the cuts on her arm and Sonata her bloodied nose. Maybe Aria's personality is just ripe for depicting her using noise to drown out agony, using anger to mourn until there's nothing left as in her "unreadable expression". Or maybe she was just staring at Adagio like she had two heads, alone, in her room, dancing barefoot :twilightsheepish:.

Thanks again for the reply, it was really fascinating to read and I'm seriously impressed you remember all those details nearly two years on! Cheers for pointing me to Extinguish the Dawn as well - that's definitely going in my "read later" list!

The Venn diagram of people that are into Equestria Girls sequels, have the requisite level of knowledge about music, dance, and history that this piece reflects, and have the writing talent to produce something of this quality… well, it’s kind of a miracle this exists, but I’m so glad it does.

It just has the best sort of melancholy.

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