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April 3, 2013 by folkchris

A challenging  part of the MASP programme was participation in a musical project that required students to work individually, in pairs and as an overall larger group, to create original music inspired by F.W Murnau’s Faust (1926).

Instead of doing a straight commentary of the film, students were expected to write on a ‘deeper level’- taking inspiration from the significant scenes, and themes present in the film.

Of these themes, temptation is one which seemed to be constantly reoccurring, featuring (to varying degrees) in all of the student pieces composed over this three day project.

The song written by Becci Wallace and myself is titled ‘Silver and Gold’ is based on and inspired by what is essentially the first temptation in the film


This ‘first temptation’ occurs during the film’s early scenes, involving an angel, the devil and a bet…of sorts. Our adaptation may have featured a devil and an angel…or just two individuals trying to tempt, out-do and manipulate each other, but nonetheless, temptation is very much present the narrative of ‘Silver and Gold’.

It was decided that the two characters in the song would be gambling, presumably in a bar,  in which the more manipulative of the two, keeps raising the stakes of what they are ‘playing’ for. What exactly is on the line is not disclosed to the listener.

Given that this background was an agreed upon common ground in the writing, the song became a jazzy/ blues piece, very different from how it had originally started.

Writing a song is a creative process with many facets – writing lyrics, finding a matching melody, arranging the song, and even getting in touch with your emotions, or expressing yourself through the song. There are as many approaches to songwriting as there are songwriters’. (Adrian Try 2010)


This process, led to a piece, inspired by Faust, but paying homage to artists like Tom Waits or Louis Armstrong, with references to the Bible and old tales of folklore. Musically, the St James Infirmary (also known as the Gambler’s Blues) was a prominent point of reference in the constructing the foundations of ‘Silver and Gold’, along with more contemporary writings.


Most of the song was written over the course of a day, but underwent vast changes in that short space of time this project allowed. This timescale was still relatively short, but as far as the MASP songwriting process goes (usually one day on collaborative pieces), it was the longest that students had to write, develop and ultimately, live with the song they were creating. 

Day 3 allowed the project to come together as a whole : The songs were performed, along side a projection of the film,  and with the collaboration of the other students. Songs were performed together, individually and as a large group, making for a fitting finale to this unique writing experience.

 Overall, I would class this project as being (musically) successful,but more importantly, I would argue that this project was successful in being a stepping stone towards achieving the ‘next step’.  

Here are the lyrics to ‘Silver and Gold’… part conversation and part argument…set somewhere in between the misty haze of the underworld and the smoky jazz haunts of New Orleans.

Silver and Gold – Christopher James Sheridan and Becci Wallace


Silver and Gold is only Silver and Gold, but you could always lose some more…

Devil: Take a look around at any face in the crowd/ Or think about your dearest friend

          Men will give in to temptation and sin/ That’s why the apples grow in Eden


Angel: Talk as smooth as you like/ though they might take a bite

           I’d chose hearts over diamonds for sure

          Test their metal and might but they live in the light/ You’re a fool if you think its not so

Both: You got the world in your hands/ You got a masterful plan

         But I think that you’re forgetting about the weakness of man

         Oh oh oh…silver and gold

Angel: Do you expect me to just follow your lead/

         We’ve got measures in place by my mercy and grace you can never succeed

          Your insatiable thirst is an incurable curse

         You’re on devil, do your worst

Devil: I will stop you right now/ Lay your cards down/ Maybe I should call your bluff

         I’ll let you choose are you scared you will lose/ or your best wont be quite enough

Both: You can try to play God, But your fatally flawed

         If your backing kindness I don’t fancy the odds

         Oh oh oh…silver and gold


Go on…you’re not scared are you?

All men are born sinners

All men are created weak

All men are created selfish

No matter who they are…or what they do

No matter how well you know them…or think you do…   

Both: You got the world in your hands/ You got a masterful plan

         But I think that you’re forgetting about the weakness of man…Oh oh oh…silver and gold


Try (2010) cited from http://audio.tutsplus.com/articles/general/the-creative-process-of-songwriting-10-perspectives/ April 3 2013

St James Infirmery – Louis Armstrong. Cited from 


April 3 2013


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