Monday, August 31, 2009

Songs of the Singing Sword (1984)

"There is a sword here, in the Sandstone Chamber, with its blade plunged deep into the block of stone. The sword is singing quietly to itself."

The singing sword may be found in Mike Goetz' B03 Adventure for CP/M, compiled March 20, 1984, and probably in other versions of this classic old text adventure as well.

As you might expect from a bright bit of magical cutlery, the sword has exquisite musical tastes. If you leave it lying around in the various chambers of Colossal Cave, you may find it again, when you return, in one of these random musical modes...
  • There is a magic sword here, chiming out the bell-like tones of "Khumbu Ice-Fall" by ringing its blade against the ground.

  • There is a sword here, singing "A Day in the Life" in a quiet, introspective voice.

  • There is a sword lying on the ground, jauntily whistling the march from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite".

  • There is a sharp and shiny sword here. It is somehow managing to sing Harry Partch's "Dafne (sic), of the Dunes" without destroying its singing organs (whatever they happen to be...)

  • There is a very strange singing sword here - it is glowing and vibrating, and the eerie electronic notes of Charles Wuorinen's "Time Encomium" issue from its blade and fill the air.

  • The stirring strains of Rossini's "William Tell" overture fill the room, coming from a singing sword lying on the ground.

  • There is a sharp sword lying here. It is (somehow) singing Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" in twelve parts, by itself!

  • There is a sharp and obviously magical sword here. It is quietly humming excerpts from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" ballet to itself.

  • There is a singing sword lying on the ground. From it resound the massed voices of a two-hundred-singer choir, filling the air with the stirring sound of the hallelujah chorus from Handel's "Messiah".

  • There is a sword here, singing "Witchi-Tai-To" in two-part harmony with itself.
As you have so readily discerned, the sword is quite the counter-cultural romantic, cutting (as it were) across several traditions to the bone of excellence. As an unknown blade, it has of course no name — at least none mentioned aloud. But, though never a treasure, it will eventually become... a trifle, a nothing, a bagatelle, a bauble in the mists of time...

>throw sword
The sword halts in mid-air, twirls like a dervish, and chants several bars of "Dies Ire" in a rough tenor voice. It then begins to spin like a rip-saw blade and... [spoiler redacted]... The sword is lying on the ground, sparking and flaming. Before your eyes it softens and melts, writhes as if in pain, and shrinks rapidly until all that is left is a... [spoiler redacted]... which cools rapidly.

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Blogger Grikdog said...

Apparently, there is a massed choir of singing swords in the grand finale of the game, but I don't recall what tune they croon.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Grikdog said...

It's worth pointing out (tiresomely, yet again) that the singing sword is found in Mike Goetz' B03 version of Adventure for CP/M. See the second paragraph above. Some zombies never learn (**;)

10:32 PM  

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