The Leitmotifs in Gloriana


Having made all four songs during the period of October to January of last year, I had not yet been able to update my blog with what I done fully with Gloriana up to now. Since I needed to prioritise with creating  the scores first at the time, and having November being the time I was diagnosed with Cancer.

For the whole of Gloriana, I have created leitmotifs that develop over the course of the four musicvideos, Elizabeth’s leitmotif is the only one that does this, as she lives through the events that take place in each of the four songs, for the other two major character they appear in 3 or 2 out of the four songs. See below the leitmotifs are for the three major characters in the historic story.

  • Elizabeth I of Britain
Eliazbeth's original leitmotif copy
Figure 1A. French Horn part From bar 20 in “Ascension Complete” (Track 1). This is Elizabeth’s Original (‘Proud’) Leitmotif, as created to represent Elizabeth’s strong will and intelligence. The firm sounding key of G major is associated with many coronations and grand events. The semiquaver movement is notable as it manifests Elizabeth’s rise to power in a strongly, diatonic rooted manner (with a tone then semitone interval passage)



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This variation of Elizabeth’s Leitmotif, is known as Elizabeth ‘Seductive’ leitmotif. not only the key is in G minor, but what was previously a ascending, diatonic, semiquaver passage, has now become a chromatic, quaver passage. the quaver now is played in fully semitone movement. The off beat nature of the whole leitmotif is different as it is on the off beat, syncopating the leitmotif. this adds to the alluring side of Elizabeth as well as as a Ska influence to the song. The Tempo at 140BPM sets a pressured layer to the atmosphere in the music.

Later in the ‘To marry or not to marry?’ there is a instrumental Antiphonal (Call and Response) section between the Guitar and the Bass. The Bass part acts as the caller to the Guitar part, carrying a part of the aforementioned leitmotif, and keep the whole piece on the beat using the tonic note of the key.

Elizabeth's Sad leitmotif variant copy
Figure 1C. Oboe part excerpted from bar 55 in “Cousin under the Axe” (Track 3).  Unlike the Proud (Original) Elizabeth’s leitmotif, Elizabeth’s ‘Sad’ leitmotif uses double the note values, and using the relative minor – E minor, although it first appears in the original key. Along with the time signature at 5/4 and the tempo set at 66 BPM. All these features contribute to the overall sadness this song is about, Elizabeth herself is very upset in having the knowledge of Mary queen of Scots finally been executed.
Elizabeth War leitmotif copy
Figure 1D. Trumpet part excerpt from at bar 102 in “Bull versus Lioness” (Track 4). This variation known as Elizabeth’s ‘War’ leitmotif, is in D minor, set in 3/4, tempo at 140 BPM, shorter note values and busier. Setting the tone she has to be ruthless in the eye of her enemies. the fast spurts of the semiquavers represents the quickness but strength too that is like a Lioness. Dodging the attacks of a Bull that is manifested with Philip and the Armada.
Elizabeth's Victorious leitmotif variation copy
Figure 1E. Violin part Excerpt from bar 264 in “Bull versus Lioness” (Track 4). This final variation is based on the original (‘Proud’) Elizabeth leitmotif. but is set in F major, modulating from the D minor which the Elizabeth’s ‘War’ leitmotif. The final variant being Elizabeth’s ‘Victorious’ leitmotif, interval patterns are the same as the ‘Proud’ leitmotif, it brings the whole musical full circle, a optimistic start ending in at a bright ending.
  • Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots original theme and Elizabeth reference copy
Figure 2A. Bagpipe part excerpt from bars 102 -115 in “To marry or not to marry”. Bars 102 to 104 contain the Mary Queen of Scots original Leitmotif. It is firmly set in G major, due to the pitch range of the French Custom Bagpipe (owned and be used to perform with by Peter Davis). the instrument is important here, the sound of the bagpipe is associated with Scotland, and the type of bagpipe is French.

Bar 105 contains the reference to Elizabeth, the quaver rise pattern is present from Elizabeth’s original (‘Proud’) Leitmotif. Linking the fact that both Elizabeth and Mary are cousins. musical reference as such.


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Figure 2B is the Mary Queen of Scots’ ‘Proud’ leitmotif, this reflects musically Mary’s stoicism in the face of the audience of her execution as she enters the execution room. It serves as a musical reflection of her past too.

Figure 2C. The leitmotif (Mary’s ‘Loyalty’ leitmotif) shown represents the sheer loyalty shown to Mary by her servants, the magnanimity Mary shows is also under this leitmotif.

Figure 2D. Mary’s ‘Defiance and appraisal’ leitmotif accompanies Mary’s speech which is also her final words. A message of her unshakeable dedication to her faith, and message of praise intended to her Son and Elizabeth.

Figure 2E. The ‘sealed fate’ leitmotif, captures the inevitable demise of Mary, also reveals the stoicism she displays further which from her perspective she wanted to be free from her life as a prisoner.

A general observation is that the leitmotifs, as they progress for Mary Queen of Scots they become more longer and elaborated, this reflects on the situation musically becoming more emotional. The leitmotifs for Mary also serve the purpose to inform the listener, about Mary’s character.

  • Phillip II of Spain
Philip II introductory theme copy.jpg
Figure 3A.  Acoustic guitar part from from Bar 69 to 73 in “Cousin under the axe” (Track 3). not really a leitmotif, but it is a musical theme, a musical hint using the phrygian mode of D to represent Philip II, it is also a taste of what is to come for the fourth track. Although a leitmotif for Philip is next to discuss.


Philip II main Leitmotif copy
Figure 3B. French Horn part from bar 99 to 100 in “Bull versus Lioness”. Philip II’s ‘War’ leitmotif is derived from Phrygian mode of D while Elizabeth’s is in D minor (Aeolian mode). This can be played with forceful ferocity, much similar like to a Bull, which is key to the title of the song, and to Philip’s character at the moment.

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