Welcome to the official homepage of my dungeon synth project, Halfling Rune. Currently dormant, Halfling Rune has released two EPs, one single, and a compilation. Here you will find behind-the-scenes info on Halfling Rune.
The first EP, Squire, was released in March 2019. Like many other dungeon synth albums, it's themed around medieval fantasy, especially Dungeons & Dragons-style heroic fantasy. Squire's release was covered on HeavyNFLD, a blog dedicated to rock, metal, punk, and dark ambient music from Newfoundland and Labrador, here.
Some notes on Squire:
- "Tower of Tovaron" was named for Tovaron, an archetypal old wizard character from an old story idea I had. The name is derived from the Old Dutch tōvaron (modern Dutch toveren), meaning "to practise magic". Musically, it was inspired by Hedge Wizard's first album, More True Than Time Thought, a modern dungeon synth classic.
- "Ren Fair Daze" was the first track I recorded for Squire, which is why it's so much longer than the others. I just figured "most songs are around three minutes" and didn't stop to think about how mind-numbingly repetitive it would get.
- "March of the Hill Giants" and "Steading of the Frost Giants" are inspired by my love of giants, naturally. In particular they were inspired by the old D&D adventure Againt the Giants, which I've never played, but I have read Ru Emerson's novel adaptation a couple of times.
- "Dungeonlights" started as an attempt at a more traditionally gloomy, droning dungeon synth track, but ended up becoming more hopeful - there's lights even in the darkest dungeon.
- "The Knight and the Orkish Maiden" is my favorite track on the album. Like "Tower of Tovaron", it was inspired by a story idea - romance between a human knight and an orkish "princess" on a quest to save the kingdom from an evil usurper. Additionally, I would be remiss if I did not thank my dad (who actually is a musician) for helping me figure this one out - his advice really pushed it over the edge from "pretty cool" to "best track of the album".
- The wind sounds on "Steading of the Frost Giants (Windy Mix)" is just me blowing into the microphone. I had to go through after and mute all the mouthsounds.
- The album art is an illustration by Walter Crane for Henry Gilbert's excellent 1912 novel, Robin Hood and the Men of the Greenwood. It depicts King Richard the Lionheart giving his approval to the union of Robin Hood and Maid Marian.
The second release, in October 2019, was a little different - a dungeon synth rap track based on a Dungeons & Dragons game I was playing with some friends at the time. Based on a playthrough of Lost Mines of Phandelver that went so off the rails it turned into Hoard of the Dragon Queen, "Phandalin Municipal Government Rap" was so named because dwarven fighter Gankum Banhammer somehow managed to become Mayor of Phandalin with half-elf cleric Teias as his "vice-mayor", while my human monk Snake Lee, looking to keep a lower profile, stayed out of politics and became a comically inept private investigator. "Phandalin Municipal Government Rap" was the first "MC Bookwyrm" track to be released, and was my second rap. It's pretty goofy but the guys got a kick out of it, so I'm very happy with it.
The third release and second EP, Fantastic Jungle, was released in October 2019, and was inspired by my love of old globetrotting adventure stories like Indiana Jones, Tarzan of the Apes, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World. In contrast to Squire, Fantastic Jungle relied much more on sound effects to set its stage, with every track having at least some sound effects and most having nature sounds in the background. Fantastic Jungle was also covered on HeavyNFLD here.
Some notes on Fantastic Jungle:
- "The Ballad of Solomon Kane", naturally, is inspired by Robert E. Howard's wandering Puritan monster slayer, Solomon Kane. Though he's not very well-known outside of genre circles today, Solomon Kane is the ultimate inspiration for the archetypcal monster hunter we see again and again in fiction today - everyone from Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing to Victor Vran to Hansel from Fables owe something to Kane's dour demeanour and broad-brimmed slouch hat. "The Ballad of Solomon Kane" is probably my favorite track on the album.
- "Allosaurus fragilis" is - again, naturally - inspired by one of my favorite dinosaurs, the humble Allosaurus. Allosaurus feels like a very classic dinosaur to me - moreso than the better-known T. rex that sort of displaced it in pop culture - so it seemed like a good fit for the album's classic adventure theme.
- "Theme for Jan and Ramona" is inspired by Otis Adelbert Kline's 1931 novel Jan of the Jungle, in particular the burgeoning relationship between heroic wild man Jan and the beautiful Ramona. I highly recommend checking out Jan of the Jungle if you're interested in pulpy adventure novels because it's a wild ride - it's like Kline was trying to rip off every Edgar Rice Burroughs novel in one book and it rules. The sequel, Jan in India, is much more conventional and less interesting.
- The album art is Hummingbirds and Passionflowers by M.J. Meade.
The fourth release, Dregs and Vestiges, was released on May 2nd, 2022. It is a compilation of previously unreleased tracks that I've recorded over the last few years. Some of them are experiments in different styles and production techniques.
Some notes on Dregs and Vestiges:
- "Dulled Knighthood" was my first attempt at dungeon synth. There was something wrong with my Audacity settings (can't remember what now) that I figured out how to fix after, which is why the mix is so weird and the volume keeps dropping off.
- "Rock of Eternity" was inspired by my favorite superhero, the original Captain Marvel (the Shazam one), and the wonder and mysticism of his home base, the extradimensional Rock of Eternity.
- "You Bring Flowers Out of Ash" was inspired by J.M. Lee's Dark Crystal novels, especially the fourth one, Flames of the Dark Crystal It was recorded on my dad's electric piano, rather than my trusty Realistic Concertmate, because I wanted to try out the tape warble sound.
- The samples at the beginning of "Wizard's Name" come from the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. This track was made as a beat for a rap collaboration that never materialized.
- "kanohi jam" was mostly an experiment in vocal layering, inspired by the dark, tribal atmosphere of early Bionicle. The drum is actually a big metal tin that I got a bunch of caramel popcorn in for Christmas a few years ago, with a Bic pen as a drumstick.
- "Rappin' Hood" is the second released MC Bookwyrm track released, and the third one overall. It's about Robin Hood and references different versions including the original ballads, Robin of Sherwood, Henry Gilbert's 1912 novel, the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, and the 1973 Disney version. This was supposed to be the first track on a whole Robin Hood-themed dungeon rap EP but I have no idea when I'll get around to actually doing that so I figured I may as well release it here.
- The album art and title are from an old Land of Gorch sketch - an early Jim Henson project that was a recurring segment in the first season of Saturday Night Live.
Cover art for Dulled Knighthood and Rappin' Hood
Typical Halfling Rune recording set-up
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