The History of Fand

on . Posted in Enid News

The Background to the Composition


Taken from a recent interview with Robert John Godfrey

The title and Celtic origins were inspired by The Garden of Fand, a tone poem by Irish composer Arnold Bax, the Robert Browning tale concerning Roland and the Dark Tower and Rachmaninov's Isle Of The Dead

The original composition was constructed by Robert John Godfrey in 1976/7 making use of content from music written for The Quest For The Holy Grail (a “school play”) written together by Francis Lickerish and Stephen Stewart in 1973  - “The Grail Music”.

The piece as it first appeared on Aerie Faerie Nonsense was accompanied by a romantic “Tennysonesque” poem written by Francis Lickerish especially for the EMI  album cover. The original artwork ideas by Fergus Lamont were rejected by the record company. Pity!

The work as it is now performed has its origin in 1984 when Robert John Godfrey revisited his youthful efforts and completely revised and extended the work. Fand as it now exists has been radically revised again for the current band line up and exists in two versions. The version the band are currently performing is as it appears on The Enid’s new release, Risen and is the one being performed in October with the CBSO.

The other alternative largely concerns an extended version of the last movement which is nearly twice as long and currently too difficult for live performance.

The Music

Analysis & Main Themes

Brooding Island Motif (RJG)

Dilemma Motif (RJG)

Haunting Guitar Figure (Grail Music)

Song Motif 

Rising Storm Motif 

Ecstasy Motif 
(FL & RJG)

Quest Motif 
(Grail Music)

Arrival Motif 

Surrender Motif 


The Song Of Roland's Spouse Motif (RJG)

Redemption Motif 

Second Ecstasy Motif 
(FL & RJG)


Robert BrowningThe work is divided into four movements. Part One: A rather sombre opening prelude depicting an island in the middle of nowhere surrounded by mists and veiled in mystery, the Brooding Island Motif. Towards the end of the movement we hear the Dilemma Motif played by the woodwind signifying a “nagging doubt”, like the answer to some question we dare not to ask. This theme never comes to the fore but rather permeates the whole work staying largely behind the scenes.

Part Two begins with Fand calling to her future lover to be, The Childe Roland, in the form of a haunting repeating guitar figure, Haunting Guitar Figure. This repeated pattern is transformed and becomes a sophisticated accompaniment to a sinuous melody, the Song Motif, starting off in the minor key and after a brief reference to the Dilemma Motif repeats in a more optimistic major key transformation. Next is heard the Rising Storm Motif (read sexual arousal) and a reference to the Brooding Island Motif as Roland dreams of Fand and begins to respond to her song.

The storm motif subsides and fragments and we return to the haunting guitar figure in a new key and the whole segment repeats. This time, instead of the rising storm subsiding, it flares into a thrilling seafaring fanfare of tempestuous music and we here for the first time Ecstasy Motif.

The movement ushers in the main theme for the next movement, the Quest Motif and comes to a close.

Part Three opens with a statement of the Quest Motif and goes through a series of changes and development followed by a short section which is intended to depict a ship as becalmed.

The music then returns to the Quest Motif but with more urgency leading to a massive statement of the Song Motif preceded by a reference to the Arrival Motif and followed by a repeated four note reduction of the Rising Storm Motif leading to “The Sea Shanties”.

The Shanties are constructed almost entirely from the Quest Motif together with additional material supplied by Francis Lickerish and Robert John Godfrey. The Shanties are characterised by the first entry of the “Rock
Band” element into the orchestrations and are intended to represent the jolly times had by Roland and his crew members on their way to Fand’s magical Island.

The shanties section builds through a series of different treatments of the Quest Motif leading to a dramatic climax as Roland arrives on the shores of Fand’s Island, Arrival Motif followed by a gentle reminder of Fand’s Song Motif.

The movement moves slowly but inevitably and with increasing power and abandon towards its climax in a consummation a sexual release, Ecstasy Motif. Robert John Godfrey has never made any secret of the fact that this is his attempt to depict in music the ultimate idealised female orgasm.

The movement ends quietly in post coital bliss with the Quest Motif, the Dilemma Motif and the Haunting Guitar Figure all sounding with each other.

The Fourth Part is a Mahlerian Adagio conceived by Robert John Godfrey.

It opens with the Surrender Motif, as Fand contemplates giving up her love and returning Roland to his broken hearted wife. Next we hear the Redemption Motif (derived from Ectasy motif) as Fand begins to realise what is in store for her. There follows a brief reference to both the Brooding Island & Dilemma Motifs.

The music of Surrender Motif returns but is now underpinned by a new and glorious counter-melody, the Song of Roland’s Spouse. When the Redemption Motif returns, it does so gloriously with increasing confidence and grandeur.

The movement comes to a climax with a massive statement of the Quest Motif in the heavy brass rounded off with a Sibelius like repetition of a four note transformation of the Ecstasy Motif played out in the bass.

Immolation? Godfrey says: “We are all from the fire and must return to it at sometime. It is the
manner of our passing rather than the fact of it which consumes my curiosity.”

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