The music programme at Loncon 3 will cover many aspects of music related to science fiction and fantasy, including participatory and panel-based sessions, as well as live performances. We'll also have an extensive programme of music created by fans about science fiction in all its forms - known as filk music. You can find out more about our filk stream here.
Our goal is to highlight science fiction and fantasy music in the widest sense, and to show that for as long as people have been making music and telling fantastic stories the two have been linked. We aim to surprise, build interest and excitement and hope that attendees will have fun, learn something new and participate. It is also very important that the programme be accessible but not superficial or too basic. Many people’s experience of the subject is limited to film soundtracks, genre-influenced popular music albums, a few famous cases like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and the Whedon musicals. We are keen to also explore mythology, history, some aspects of religious practice, links to science and ‘modern’ SF&F and also look to future developments and more widely than the familiar ‘Western’ modes.
The Loncon 3 music programme is inspired from and will build upon a similar track which was very successfully run at the 2009 British Eastercon LX by Vincent Docherty, who will also run the Loncon 3 music programme.
The main themes of the panel-type programming will likely include:
- How have music and SF&F in the widest sense developed historically and what linked them together? For instance the concept of ‘The Music of the Spheres’ and how music influenced our early understanding of the universe, structured through storytelling and later, mathematics.
- The other side of the same idea concerns music as an inspiration to world-building in fiction. There are many examples, such as ‘the Music of the Ainur’ from Tolkien’s legendarium, where the universe is sung into existence.
- Music as a form of communication, looking at music as a universal communication medium and method of contact (‘Close Encounters’, records on space-probes, and many SF novels) as well as the ‘alien’ tone scales of different human cultures and the psychological underpinning of the experience of music.
- How musical technology has evolved and has/can be used to depict concepts such as the future, or the alien, and have influenced the development of soundtracks and musical scores for SF&F dramatic presentations, and others. Also how some instruments such as the Theremin became associated with the genre, as well as familiar music which has been ‘co-opted’ such as the pieces used in 2001 a Space Odyssey.
- The largest theme, in terms of potential panels, is an exploration of published music and SF&F together, from the point of view of both the creators as well as ‘consumers’. This could include:
- Depictions of music in SF&F literature and dramatic features;
- Composers who write music for SF&F, looking at both early composers inspired by fantasy and mythology (Beethoven’s Pastorale, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Holst’s Planets Suite, and many others), as well as more recent composers of music for SF television and film, and their influences; also the concept of Leitmotif.
- SF music in popular culture, exploring how SF&F has influenced popular culture, including rock and pop (Mike Oldfield, Kate Bush, Jean Michel Jarre, ELO, Hawkwind, David Bowie and whole genres such as heavy metal), themed albums such as Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, musicals like Rocky Horror and more recently, Joss Whedon’s ‘Once more with Feeling’ and Doctor Horrible’s Sing-along Blog;
- The musical inspirations of writers, artists and fans, looking at what music people listen to both for ideas and enjoyment.
We also hope to have more participatory events and live performances, including a major symphonic concert, some hands-on events where fans can learn about basic musical principles and perhaps try out different instruments. Musical elements will be built throughout the programme, including the sessions aimed at younger fans, to establish it as a ‘red thread’ through the con.