The Gilgamesh Journal
This project will attempt to stay as faithful to the original stone tablet translations as possible. The more I work on this project, the more I realize that I will be using "excerpts" from the original text. It is a most challenging undertaking! The date that starts this journal is not the beginning. There was close to a year's worth of research and discovery that led to my idea of putting the Epic of Gilgamesh to music. I had to intensify my knowledge of the cultures and history of Mesopotamia.
This new CD will include music from my friends Marcie Schreier and Phillip Griffin in Jerusalem! Marcie has an incredible voice (she will be the voice of Ishtar/Inanna, the goddess who attempts to entice Gilgamesh), and Philip is an accomplished musician who plays some authentic instruments of that area. Talk about yer long distance recording!
I have the skeletons of four songs, and will begin to piece the bones together this weekend. I even changed the strings on my acoustic guitar...
Garone has enlisted the talents of his pal Pete Stergakos to "narrate" parts of this epic tale! He will also be singing and playing whatever (of course) - so all you Pete fans can look forward to his contribution to this - this - whatever...
Sorry for such a long time between this update and the others. Here we go:
Billy Brown has sent me an incredible ADAT filled with great tracks that I will be using. Specifically, his composition "Mystics" will be used as "The Lament of Gilgamesh for Enkidu". I have already recorded the vocal and flute over his original tracks.
Phillip Griffin (my friend from Jerusalem) has sent me a test MP3 of his playing of the Turkish Saz, which will be used for the song "Enkidu".
Marcie's visit back in November enabled her to sing on the song "Ishtar/Inanna". She did a beautiful job as the goddess Inanna, and I am currently re-doing vocal to match her incredible performance.
I finally finished the rest of the instrumentation (and I re-recorded my vocal tracks) on "Ishtar/Inanna". I sent the MP3 to Marcie and she had very positive comments. Anthony will be playing the "solo" on this tune.
I finished my parts of the song "We Are All One" (where Gilgamesh proclaims his kingship to the people of Uruk), and sent the ADAT to Billy Brown - for him to add Mike Carr, Lisasmith, Casey, my brother Ken, and himself onto. In addition he is remixing a song he wrote called "Cutter", which I will use for this project. Casey will be putting down exotic drum tracks using his V-Drums, and Kenny will be adding Chapman STick and bass on a couple of songs. Can't wait to get the tape back!!!
Spoke to Dave Helfand, and he will be sending me an incredible piece he composed on his harp. I will be overlaying vocals on this song. Incredible stuff!!
Spoke to Ernie Woodall, and he has volunteered to write the music for the song "Huwawa". Huwawa was a robotic beast that guarded the gateway to the Cedar Forest in what is today known as Lebanon. Gilgamesh and Enkidu battle this beast together. I can't wait to work on this one!!
Began putting basic tracks on the opening song - currently it is just skeletal. It will have lots of african voices and drums behind a very folky guitar (I hope!)
Spoke to the Monkee, Camels and Scotto and they will be adding their talents to this monster!!
Yes, and of course, Uncle Mikey will be composing a song for this as well.
Pete still has not returned my phone calls...where the hell are ya - Pete!!!????? If you read this please call me!!!
Recorded the song "The Flower of Life" with my scratch vocals. Mike Carr will be putting his most excellent vocal personifying the Flower of Life - (After Gilgamesh meets Utnapishtim - the Sumerian "Noah" of their original version of the flood - he is informed by him that there is a flower that exists under the ocean and when consumed by a mortal, it will bring everlasting life. Gilgamesh retrieves the flower but decides to wait till he returns to Uruk to "test it out" on the elderly before he consumes it himself. Whether this was an act of selflessness or fear is still debated by scholars to this day - I took the latter, reckoning that Gilgamesh was indeed afraid based on the Babylonian version - anyway, the plant is stolen by a serpent (?) as Gilgamesh sleeps - he awakens, finding the "Flower of Life" being taken by the serpent and falls into deep despair).
Transferred Phillip's incredible Saz interpretation of "Enkidu" to the ADAT, and Casey will be adding V-drums to this, and whatever Billy decides to do...
Recorded the basic tracks to a song that has nothing to do with Gilgamesh - but will be on the CD - called "Oh No". Casey will be putting drums on this one, Billy, Mike and Lisasmith will be doing background vocals and whatever else they desire!
Oh, and of course, my most incredibly talented brother Ken will be putting Chapman Stick and/or bass guitar on whatever he can!
The most incredible Scott Harris promised to send me an ADAT with some ideas to be put into song for Gilgamesh.
Billy tells me he and Casey have put guitar and V-Drums (respectively) on "We are all ONE" after dumping the ADAT to Digital Performer. I am really looking forward to hearing this!!!
Spoke to the the magnificent Monkee who will be most certainly playing on this thing when he comes down here in September. I hope to release this monster by Christmas of 2000 - but maybe January 12, 2001 would be more "appropriate" (that is the birthdate of the HAL the computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey" - and the birth of my Jenny.
Sorry for the delay to this update, but I have accomplished much!
Billy sent me a rough mix of "We Are All One" with his added guitar and Casey's drums - incredible! He also sent me additional material for Gilgamesh (or whatever comes next) and a remix of "Cutter" which will end up being titled "Down to the Sea" or "In Search of Utnapishtim" - where Gilgamesh swims to the bottom of the ocean to acquire the "Flower of Life". There's so much great stuff on this tape I don't know what to use now!!!
I have been in contact with Dave Helfand, and am awaiting his contribution. It will probably be called Uruk, after the Sumerian city that Gilgamesh ruled, and may end up being an instrumental piece - not sure what I'm gonna do yet.
I have finished "The Bull of Heaven". Anthony co-wrote this one with me and put some of the most incredible guitar that I've heard in a long time. Marcie's comment upon hearing a rough mix of the MP3 was that Anthony's guitar playing "kicks ass". The song is finished (I think), with the exception of V-Drums by Casey. This will be the final tape sent to Billy Brown for additions.
I have also written and completed the song "Siduri" - and Ann Marie's vocal performance is second to none. Hands down beautiful. This song also need drums and maybe some electric guitar? Another one for Billy. Oh yeah - Siduri is the inn-keeper of a tavern that Gilgamesh stops by on his way to meet Utnapishtim. Siduri sees Gilgamesh is unhappy and restless and gives him some very good advice - not that he heeds it!
The song "The Fallen Star" is completed (with the exception of drums, once again), and Jenny did an incredible vocal performance as Ninsun (Gilgamesh's Mom). This is another song that needs real drums. Gilgamesh has a dream about a star that falls from the sky - his mother interprets this as a representation of someone who he will meet (Enkidu) that will become his good friend.
I received the CD from Billy with the mix of "We Are All One" and it sounds great. The backing vocals are done beautifully. I will be transferring this to ADAT and then adding additional tracks. I am almost done with the next ADAT to go to Billy. The songs "Huwawa", "The Bull of Heaven" and "Siduri" will be on it, so Billy can add guitar, Casey drums and Kenny bass or stick.
Billy also told me that "Enkidu" will be the next song to be worked on. Casey will be putting some hand made drums and Kenny will be putting Chapman Stick on this song.
I received the CD from Dave Helfand and it is beautiful. The CD is called "among the Sea of Reeds". I've taken the song "Caravan" and put a vocal over it, and it is now "Uruk". I hope Dave likes it!
Preliminary mixes of songs are interesting, but not quite there yet.
Sorry for such a huge gap between this update and the last, but I've been very busy!
I will be working with a new friend of mine, Joseph Pagan. Dr. Pagan is a professor at UCLA who speaks several languages, reads and translates cuneiform characters, has written a book that was published by the Vatican Press called "A Morphological and Lexical Study of Personal Names in the Ebla Texts." It was published in the series Archivi Reali di Ebla, Studi vol. 3, 1998 --- and is an all around nice guy!
I found his site while doing a web search for "cuneiform" to get an accurate rendering of the name Gilgamesh for the cover of the CD and the Web Companion. I emailed him asking him if he could help me with this seemingly impossible task, and he kindly replied saying that he would be glad to help me and would email me the rendering when he arrived home. I was stunned that he replied so quickly and was so generous in his efforts to help - and the fact that he had no idea who I was!!
Anyway, later that day, as promised, he emailed me the inscription, which I brought into Photoshop (ran some filters on it) and it now graces the Web Companion logo, and will be the cover of the CD. If not for Joe, this would never have happened. Cuneiform is a very obscure, ancient written language and there are very few people in this country who know how to read it - let alone translate it!
He will also be editing the Gilgamesh Web Companion to ensure historical and philosophical accuracy. He has sent me beginnings of an essay he is writing on Gilgamesh, which has provided much insight into the story. Thanks so much Joe! -
Each day I add more information to the Web Companion, and am reading constantly about Gilgamesh - the essays, the various translations and Joe has pointed out some paralells in Homer's "The Illiad" that I am currently reading as well. I will be purchasing a book called "Gilgamesh: A Reader" - it purportedly contains many essays on the Epic.
On the music side:
I have finished "Utnapishtim and the Great Flood", "Gilgamesh Laments for Enkidu" and "The Far Away". I have the final mix of "We Are All One" and boy is it POWERFUL! As I worked on the song "Utnapishtim and the Great Flood", I was reading comparitive essays on the Biblical story of the Flood - and drawing comparisons between the two. It is very interesting indeed!
Anthony wrote and then recorded a beautiful classical guitar piece called "The Journey" (when Gilgamesh leaves Uruk to search for Utnapishtim to find the secret to immortality).
The Monkee is coming to AZ and he will be putting bass guitar and tin whistle on some of the Gilgamesh tunes.
I spoke with Billy and he tells me that "The Flower of Life" and "Enkidu" are almost finished. Mike Carr has put his vocal on "Flower of Life", Casey has put drums on this as well. Kenny will be putting bass guitar and Chapman stick on these as well.
I have created a Beta version of Gilgamesh, and the songs seem to flow nicely. I will be redoing the vocals on "Lost in the Temple of Anu" and then that song will be finished.
I spoke with Pete and he will not be contributing his talents to Gilgamesh, but he will be contributing two songs to the next Garone release tentatively titled, "Spooky Spaceship".
Sorry there has been such a delay since the last journal update. Much has happened and I am truly near the end of this project. On the research side:
Joe Pagan has been wonderful. He has translated all song titles into cuneiform and included explanations for the characters as well. What more could anyone ask for?
Romi Keerbs has sent me initial artwork and I must say it is great. She did many renderings of the cover and sent me links to her artwork. She must have created fifty different versions of the cover and just as many variations of typefaces. It was a tough decision but I decided on one cover and one typeface design. Romi also took Joe's rendering of the name Gilgamesh and worked it into the design. Here is the cover as it stands:
I sent her the liner notes, song titles and credits. Now she will send the completed versions to Billy in NY, who will print them out and send them to me in AZ for final "construction". I await the final with baited breath.
I added three MP3 files to the site for download, and the response has been very positive
On the music side:
The Monkee came to AZ and added the beautiful bass guitar and tin whistles that you can now download.
I've completed the mix of "Huwawa the Terrible", and you can download that as well. This song took me the most time to complete. There are several layers of sound scapes that took me forever to put together. I'm very happy with this as well.
I received all mixes and sound files from Billy. I must have done twenty mixes of "We Are All One". I took all of the original files and dumped them onto the computer, where I put them all back together again.
Anthony re-recorded "The Journey" (he wasn't happy with the original version) and what an incredible job he did! Wait till you hear this one.
"Enkidu" was a real challenge - I wanted the focal point to be on Phillip's performance, yet the song needed some additional instrumentation. Casey put a great percussion track to Phillip's Turkish Saz, yet it needed more. Anyway, I added some additional instrumentation and it worked (I hope). I sent the MP3 of the mix to Marcie in Jerusalem for her spin on them, and she had some very important comments that made me remix the song. I am very happy with the end result (Marcie was right - as usual), I hope Phillip will like it as well!
Dave Helfand downloaded "Uruk" from the MP3 page (the song we collaborated on) and really liked it - so that was a relief! I sent him a Gilgamesh "Sampler" as well.
All the material Billy sent me was really great. I got the finished version of "The Flower of Life", with Mike Carr's most excellent vocals. I used Billy's original mix and added other material to that - so it really is a combination of two mixes.
Casey added what must be the most creative drum tracks to "The Fallen Star".
And "The Bull of Heaven" - well, what can I say? Between Anthony's mind boggling guitar work, Billy's bass guitar and keyboard work and Casey's thunder drums - it sounds like the Bull is in your living room! Excellent job guys!
And now, I've got one song left to mix...so off I go!
So there ya have it so far! I'm almost there!
FINISHED! IT IS FINISHED. Final mixes were completed today, and I have transferred them to CD - I am listening for fade outs, digital noise etc. etc. The only thing left (a big thing at that) is the artwork. Romi is working feverishly to get that to Billy.
This was an incredible project. I will never forget it. I've learned allot about using the computer as a "touch up" tool, mixing console and organizer. I have learned about collaboration with people, and just as importantly, I've learned about the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and the incredible legacy they have left us known as "The Epic of Gilgamesh".