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4.1. Bar 1 (0:00) - 33

The theme opening "Ommadawn" is played on a harp as the melody. If you listen closely, you can hear 3 harps playing the same or octaves apart - one on the right, one on the left and one in the middle.

The theme is two sentences, each 4 bars and together 8 bars. Each sentence can also be split into 2.

The theme can be split into many motifs, appearing again different places on the album.

The accompanying music is awfully simple. The organ (or synthesiezer) plays a slow, repeating figure every 2 bars. The bass is even simpler. The music speaks for itself. Basically there's just the "basic note" (?) and the fifth (fourth below basic note) (g and d).

This theme could be called the main idea in "Ommadawn". It opens the album, and it's easy to sing. It's actually repeated 4 times. Many will claim that's monotous, even boring. You can only say, that Oldfield's music demands something of the listener. You can enter into the music on it's own ground. You have to be drawn in by the character of the music into a monotous, maybe slightly mystical mood.

"There is nothing wrong with repitition if you regard what's being repeated as worth repeating." (Oldfield interview "Boxed")

The basic mood of the theme is a bit special. I experience a mild, rather sad mood. This is in g minor (?), but a speciel minor, with a low "leading note" (?). This has a special effect. Some English folk music has a low "leading note". The melody has a low sixth (the note es), but if you listen to bar 6, you find a very high e. Here we have a second voice on the organ (synthesizer). This gives a strange dorian scale appearance.

Another thing is, that you can also hear a weak organ point on the note d on the organ, and we shall see, that this tone gets a speciel meaning when we change to theme B (bar 33).

The electric guitar heard weakly in the background also has an important function. It varies the music a little by adding a counter voice in certain places. See e.g. bar 17, where we have this small motif.

I've called this motif d. The motif is a bit in the background here. It sounds as if Oldfield added some echo, and like this is the way he made the motif.

This small motif turns out to be a "red thread", showing up different places during the album in variations. It has its source in bar 175, and is one of "Ommadawn"s basic ideas. On the schema the small d motif is a vertical column.

The 4th time theme A is repeated, a certain tension builds. E.g. listen to the bass. Right from the start, a classical acoustic bass is used, to give a soft sound, fitting the rest of the music. In bar 25 an electric bass enters on g, to make the picture more intense. Later, on the 4th repeating of theme A, we get a weak crescendo and intensifying of the organ point on note d, leading to the transition to theme B.

It can be hard to describe the music, so the picture will have to speak for itself.

The transition is several ascending scales mixing in a complicated manner. The harp first plays a g minor scale (bar 34). The organ (or synthesizer) enters with a chromatic scale with triplets (bar 35). The harp enters again with a g minor scale with triplets.

We notice that bar 36 has 3 beats. This makes an effectfull break from the monotous bass rhythm, and makes the music come alive. But most impotantly this makes the chromatic scale on the organ end almost perfectly on the tone a, opening theme B.

We also have to remember the "organ point" on the tone d, which gives the music its special mood and "colour" (?).

You have to wonder how Oldfield made this "organ point". It sounds like a deep female voice, singing "aaaa...". But you can't sing for that long (18 bars), so a tape recorder or some other electronic equipment must have been in use here.

Created: 18 August, 2004 - Last changed: 18 August, 2004 - Comments (0)