Whoosh! Issue 18 - March 1998

IAXS project #359
By Jill Arenson
Copyright © 1998 held by author
3390 words

The Music (01-07)
The Instruments (08-09)
The Voices (10-13)
Destiny (14-15)
Staving Off Xena Withdrawal Syndrome (16-19)
Recommended Listening (20-32)
Editor's Note (31)

Songs Of The Warrior Princess

The Music

But can he make coffee?

Joxer plays instruments, composes songs, and sings without benefit of being dubbed!.

[01] Xena: Warrior Princess succeeds as a television show on many levels and for many reasons. We all watch, enjoying the tongue-in-cheek action, the admittedly slanted story lines, and the uniquely deep character development each week with relish, wishing that forty-five minutes could somehow stretch into hours.

[02] There is another element of this wonderful show, however, that may sometimes go unnoticed, as is usually the case with film and television. It is as important to the show as the story and characters themselves. It is uniquely Xena, and is every bit as creative and ground breaking as everything else in this series. It is the music.

[03] Joe LoDuca has given us a wonderful gift. He has opened our ears to all kinds of music: instruments we have rarely heard of before, vocalization totally different from western choruses, and more.

[04] Like the show, the music takes many liberties, mixing present with past, American with Bulgarian, and Bacchae with rap music. If you know the show, you will know what I am talking about. Just as we can allow Xena of ancient Greece to assist David in slaying Goliath, we allow Gabrielle to dance at a pagan festival to ancient Middle Eastern rap music. It is all in the name of great entertainment and great music.

[05] Xena's music is not always tongue-in-cheek. The opening theme is unforgettable and the mournful melody used for the motif of "The Warrior Princess" [track #2 - 1st soundtrack CD, see recommended CDs below] is somehow both sad and haunting, martial and seductive, just like Xena herself.

[06] The show abounds with great musical passages. If you find yourself wishing you could pop in a CD and play the music anytime you find yourself in the throes of XWS (Xena fan term for 'Xena Withdrawal Syndrome'), you can. There are two CDs of the soundtrack music available (see the list of recommended CDs below).

[07] There are also many artists currently available whose music is reminiscent of "Xena-style" music. Put on any of the recommended CDs and you will feel like you are galloping through fields of wheat and heading towards Amphipolis, or walking beside the Warrior Princess on the way to your next adventure.

The Instruments

But can it play rock and roll?

A scottish bagpipe, similar to the gaida.

Main Title, Xena: Warrior Princess (Track #1, Soundtrack 1): Is that a bagpipe?

[08] The gaida is a traditional Bulgarian bagpipe. It is said that a wedding is incomplete without its presence. It is the traditional companion of the solitary shepherd and is often heard solo or accompanied by a large drum. It is an instrument of simple construction, made of sheepskin with two pipes, and one which plays a melody while producing a drone. The pipes of the eastern regions of Thrace and Dobrudja are usually high pitched, while those of western Shope region tend to be lower. In the south Bulgarian Rhodope mountain region, they are extremely deep-pitched with huge goatskin bags.

"Rrarr" (Track #13, Soundtrack 2): Is that a flute?

[09] The kaval is a Bulgarian or Balkan end-blown flute. Also known as a shepherd's instrument, it is played in orchestras and as an accompaniment to singing.

The Voices

Does a bare midriff help with the diaphram?

Ephiny sings an Amazon funeral dirge in MATERNAL INSTINCTS.

"The Warrior Princess" (Track #2, Soundtrack 1)
"Glede Ma Glede" (Track #12, Soundtrack 1)
"Burying the Past" (Track #13, Soundtrack 1)
"Homeland" (Track #8, Soundtrack 2)

[10] The signature sounds of the Warrior Princess leitmotif has its roots in Les Mystere Des Voix deus Bulgares, a collection of Bulgarian Choruses (The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Chorus, among others). With roots in the long tradition of Bulgarian folk polyphony, the members of the choir are recruited from numerous music festivals. The best voices are selected during song contests and then sent to the choir of the Bulgarian radio and TV station. The voices often sound like an alternation between dancing joy and deep melancholy, which are enhanced by their distinctive approach to harmony [See EDITOR'S NOTE below].

[11] The secret of the music is a technique of voice and tone shaping. While Europeans form the voice at the front, the Bulgarians produce their tones in the throat and nose, supported by the use of overtone resonances. Their music knows no chromatics. Their tension is created by unevenness. The tones are sung without vibrato. They are either smooth or trill-like (like our Warrior's cry).

[12] The women go beyond the limits and possibilities found in our choirs with ease. Singing is a tradition and is handed down from generation to generation. Through Xena: Warrior Princess, a new world of sound is opened up to us! Listen on! Xenites - not only do we have a great TV show to watch, but we have discovered incredible music to listen to as well.

"The Warrior Princess" (Track #2 from the Soundtrack 1).
[13] The major influence for Xena's trademark theme comes directly from Les Mystere des Voix Bulgares. You can hear it in its original version on Les Mystere Des Voix Bulgares - Volume Two. Just put on track #1 - "Kaval Sviri" (The flute Plays) and you will realize that this is indeed the Warrior Princess' theme.


[14] Xena: Warrior Princess and, specifically, Joe LoDuca, were nominated for an Emmy for the musical score in the episode DESTINY (36/212). The stand-out musical passage in this episode comes from the scene where Xena awaits her 'future' as the slave girl, M'Lila, sings into the sunset on the bow of the pirate ship. The musical interlude gives us the feeling of peaceful serenity and the passage of time, which turns out to be the calm before the storm.

[15] M'Lila is singing a song called, "Fraoch A Ronaigh" (Heather of Rona). The song can be found on a CD entitled Mouth Music by the group of the same name. What is "mouth music"? Mouth Music, or puirt-a-beul in Gaelic, is an ancient Scots form of a capella music (singing without instrumental accompaniment).

Staving Off Xena Withdrawal Syndrome

[16] If you have a CD player with a multiple CD carousel or if you just make yourself a compilation tape, filling either up with the recommended tracks below will give you hours of listening pleasure and help to keep XWS at bay.

[17] How do you know if you have XWS? Are you watching Xena episodes one after the other? Do you know most of the dialogue by now? Do you spend a good part of the day reading Xena fan fiction? Are you marking off days on the calendar until the new episodes air? Are you practicing your 'warrior cry' in the bathroom (or elsewhere)?

[18] If you are displaying any of the above symptoms, then the Doctor recommends a healthy dose of music.

[19] Listed below are artists and CDs that are sure to please. Not all tracks on the CD listed will be Xena music. I have indicated one or two tracks that most closely match the type of scoring used in the show. It does not mean that the other tracks on the CD are not good or do not sound Xena-like; I am merely choosing one or two to recommend.

Recommended Listening

[20] Xena: Warrior Princess Original Soundtrack 1

Label: Varese Sarabande; distributed by MCA/Universal; Catalog # VSD-5750-2.

The original soundtrack, a must have for all Xena music lovers!

[21] Xena: Warrior Princess Original Soundtrack 2

Label: Varese Sarabande; distributed by MCA/Universal; Catalog # VSD-5883

The second installment of original soundtrack music, including several selections from the Emmy Award nominated episode, DESTINY (36/212). Also a "must have" for all Xena music lovers!

[22] Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares
The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Chorus is the major influence for the Xena trademark female vocal chorus:

Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares - Volume Two

Electra/Nonesuch; Catalog #79201

Track #1 - "Kaval Sviri" (The Flute Plays). This is the Warrior Princess' theme

Les Mystere Des Voix Bulgares - A Cathedral Concert

Vevre/World; Catalog # 314-540-794

Track #1 - "Mara" Xena, Xena, Xena all the way!

[23] Mouth Music
A group that mixes a form of Scottish a capella music with the modern rhythms and instruments of today.

Help me...I have watched BITTER SUITE too many times....

Their version of what we know as "M'Lila's song" was recorded in a school stairwell.

Mouth Music

Distributed by Rkodisc
Catalog # 10196

Track #10 - "Fraoch a Ronaigh" (Heather of Rona)
The song M'Lila sings in DESTINY (36/212)

[24] Dead Can Dance
Fronted by the incredible voices of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, Dead Can Dance CDs could have been used to score XWP. You cannot get more Xena than this. Any one of their CDs will satisfy, and their music should make you want to take off your clothes and dance around an open fire in the forest at midnight in celebration of the gods above and the mother earth below.

A Passage In Time

Distributed by Rykodisc
Catalog # RCD 20215

Track #1 - "Saltarello"
Medieval dance music. Remember at the end of WARRIOR...PRINCESS (15/115), when they were celebrating in the courtyard and Xena was stuffing her face with sweets? "Hey, that's what you're here for!" The villagers could have been dancing to this!

Track #2 - "Song of Sophia"
Lisa Gerrard a capella - Bulgarian-style singing, just so beautiful and Xena-like. It is difficult to believe it is not from the show.

Track #4 - "Cantara"
This track has almost an Amazon feel to it, starting slow with guitar & harpsichord. Then, the tempo picks up as drums and Lisa Gerrard vocals are added. Once this happens, it is hard not to imagine our Amazons dancing around an open fire.

Track #8 - "The Host of Seraphim"
This piece has "Xena" written all over it. Play this loud and you will simply get goose bumps. It is the chant of a dark warrior, the sadness of regret, and the hope for redemption.

Track #12 - "The Song of the Sybil"
An absolutely beautiful chant by Lisa Gerrard. Church-like hymn, punctuated with organ and bells.

Track #15 - "Bird"
Slow tribal drumming with a repetitive chant by Lisa Gerrard certain to bring out the Amazon warrior in all of us.

Into The Labyrinth
Track #1 - "Yulunga"
This track is one of my personal favorites. An absolutely sensuous rhythm highlighted with the wonderful singing of Lisa Gerrard. Perfect music for casting spells by the light of a full moon.

Track #6 - "Saldek"
Bulgarian style vocal with simple drumming. Remember those women singing in the fields? Play this and you will imagine you are walking through the fields towards Amphipolis now (preferably leading a beautiful palomino)!

Track #9 - "The Spider's Stratagem"
This is another of my personal favorites. Excellent Lisa Gerrard vocals with an undeniably sexy rhythm that I just cannot resist. I simply must dance in celebration of the eternal flame -- may it burn within us forever!

[25] Transglobal Underground
Just think of the episode GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN (28/204). (When Gabrielle bared her teeth, closed her eyes and took that bite, Xena was not the only one who moaned!) For those of you who enjoyed that ancient Bacchae "rap" song and the feverish dance rhythms of the festival in the Bacchae cave, then this CD is for you! Warning: This is not new age music. This is not Celtic music. This is dance music. Take a deep breath, and take that bite!

International Times

distributed by: Epic/Sony
Catalog # EX 66432

Track #1 - "Lookee Here"
Probably from the Bacchae's list of greatest hits! Just like the Bacchae rap song!

Track #6 - "Monter Aciel"
Very sexy, slow number with female Indian vocals. I can see Gabrielle dancing to this between those two women right now!

[26] Delerium
It has the seductive beat and male choral chanting first presented to us by Enigma. It is riddled with Baka Forest Pygmie samples made famous by Deep Forest. It is accentuated with lush tribal drumming, and more Xena-type instruments than I could list. The most prominent being the incredibly hypnotic Kaval or Shepard's Flute ("Soulmates", "Burying the Past").

And it has excellent vocals. Those of you who enjoy the vocals of Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Gerrard, Jacqui Hunt (Single Gun Theory) - you are going to love this!

Track #6 - "Lamentation"
No vocals, but there is a beautiful shepherd's flute. If you close your eyes, you will think you are listening to a full instrumentation of the song "Soulmates" from the first Xena soundtrack. So, for all of you bards who are about to write that steamy chapter, this is definitely the song to listen to... or perhaps... to practice to!

Track #4 - "Silence"
This is my personal favorite. The vocals are Sarah McLachlan, and of course her singing is wonderful. But it is the words that draw me to this song and make me think of our Warrior Princess.

[27] Illumination
Classical/New Age music.

Hildegard Von Bigen: The Fire of the Spirit

Original compositions, arrangements, and interpretations by Richard Souther
Distributed by Sony Music
Catalog # 62853

Track #7 - "Illumination"
This track has great drumming, a killer shepherd's flute and a smattering of bagpipe for good measure!

Track #12 - "Worship"
For me, I would buy this CD for this track alone. No vocals. Just a single bagpipe, playing to the errant wind and singing of a warrior's heart.

[28] Loreena McKennitt

Yeah, I'm out of focus, but watcha gonna do about it?

Her album THE VISIT contains many "immortal" songs such as "Bonny Portmore" as heard in HIGHLANDER.

The Mask And The Mirror
Released on Warner Bros
catalog # 45420-2

"For some medieval minds, the mirror was the door through which the soul frees itself by passing...for others the pursuit of personal refinement like polishing the mirror of the soul...what was revealed and what was concealed...and what was the mask and what the mirror"?

This is a quote (sort of) from the inner leaf of the CD. Marrying Celtic, Spanish, Islamic instruments and rhythms, and then blessed by Loreena McKennitt's beautiful vocals, you cannot go wrong with this CD. As far as "Warrior Princess" music goes, it has my all-time favorite Xena-like style song:

Track #1 - "The Mystic's Dream"
Opening with the voice of a siren over the ocean, adding in sitar and tribal percussion, sprinkle a bit of male chorus and top it all off with a beautiful bagpipe and the incredible voice of Ms. McKennitt and you have classic Xena music. Bits and pieces of this song were used often on the ill-fated Roar (TV, 1997) (I'm going to miss that show - I liked it!). This is my favorite Xena-style song and it is #1 on my tape.

The Book Of Secrets
Released on Warner Bros
Catalog #46719-2 (New Release)

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu (570-490 BC)

Didn't our very own bard say something similar: "It's not the destination, but the journey..."?

Track #1 - "Prologue"
Dulcimer, violin, sitar, tribal percussion and wordless vocal - perfect for riding a horse over a meadow across splashing streams, the wind whipping back your long black hair.

Track #4 - "Marco Polo"
Middle Eastern flavor rhythms and instrumentation; wonderful drumming accentuated with dulcimer, violin and Ms. McKennitt's incredible voice. Even Cleopatra couldn't help but dance to this one! Welcome to Egypt, Xena!

[29] Natacha Atlas

This CD is also a delicious example of India's influence in XWP music.

Let your mind wander to the opening scene of BLIND FAITH (42/218). Xena and Gabrielle are walking through a bazaar, or rather an "open air" market, and our favorite bard wants to shop. The music that is playing in the background has a similar feel to the music on this CD (with the beautiful vocals of Natasha Atlas added).

This is incredibly seductive music and should have you gyrating your hips and snapping your fingers as you dance semi-nude around the house.


Distributed by MCA
Catalog # MCAD11548
This might be a hard one to find. Check in the "World" section.

Track #1 & #10 - "Iskanderia"
This is the track that first attracted me to this CD. It does remind me of that market scene. You just have to get used to the female vocal style rap (only a little of it), but Natacha Atlas's India-style vocal is wonderful! (Track #10 is the same song, but a nice remix).

Track #2 - "Les Nat-Arak"
"Listen to your heart and the truth will be clear!" A great rhythmic groove behind Natacha Atlas's incredible vocals.

Track #3 - "Diaspora"
This is my favorite track. The song starts out nicely enough, but it hits full steam around 03:10, starting with a perfect "AIYAIYAIYA!" (that's what I said), and ending with an "AIYAIYAIYA!! The musical interlude in between those two warrior yells is extremely seductive.

[30] Peter Gabriel

Passion: Music for The Last Temptation Of Christ

Distributed by Geffen
Catalog # 24206-2

Track #1 - "The Feeling Begins"
So similar to the music used during the "I don't eat meat" scene in THE DEBT (52/306), you would believe this piece was actually being used. Seductive flute and heart-stopping rhythms make this track worth the entire CD.

Also, you might be interested to note that there are two passages from the new Xena: Warrior Princess Volume Two CD that are extremely similar to the music used in THE DEBT 1&2 (52,53/306,307) as well. They are:

Track #3 - "Xena Kicks Bacchae Butt"
Which mirrors the music used during the opening battle sequence of THE DEBT Part 1 (52/306).

Track #13 - "Rrarr"
Which is similar to the music used during the dinner scene and an excellent example of the KAVAL. However, I can't help but associate this piece of music with the seduction of Caesar by Xena. It is just too strong an image to ignore. Peter Gabrielle's "The Feeling Begins" is closer in feel to what was presented to us during the dinner scene.

[31] There is more music out there, and I am still searching. I hope you enjoy these selections. Feel free to e-mail me with your own Xena music listening recommendations!

[32] Listen On!

Editor's Note

[33] There are very few authentic folk traditions which developed autonomously the use of polyphony (music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together). The Bulgarian folk choral customs are among the few in this rare tradition. When I was studying music at the University of Illinois (back in the mid-1980s, under the tutelage of Dr. Bruno Nettl, a maverick in enthomusicology), little did I know that my study of the folk polyphony art of the Bulgarians would come back to me in such an interesting way. Polyphony rarely happens in folk traditions not influenced by Western European culture. This makes the music stand out even more to the Western ear because we are trained by our environment to relate to polyphony, chord progressions, and even chord constructions, in a certain way. These non-Western European approaches to harmony many times jar the expectations of the casual conditioned "Western" ear, yet also are very vital and exciting in their "newness". Next to the interesting harmonies (if it can still be called that after the text layering, liberal use of tone clusters, and striking dissonances), there is a predilection for irregular rhythms (e.g. 2-2-3, or 2-2-3-2-2). Xena: Warrior Princess has exploited these cultural effects in very canny ways.


Jill Arenson Jill Arenson
Born in New York, relocated to Los Angeles in 1983 to study music. Played in the LA area in several rock and jazz/blues bands for several years before becoming interested in DJ-ing. Became fascinated with the art of mixing and remixing. Established my own DJ service and spent the next five years spinning at parties and night clubs throughout the Southern California area. Then came Xena! Now I mix "Xena" music into all of my dance sets.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT I & II (52,53/306,307); A DAY IN THE LIFE (39/212)
Favorite line: Callisto: "Same old torture, every day, every day." RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205); Xena: "I love the smell of warrior sweat in the morning." THE FURIES (47/301)
First episode seen: HOOVES AND HARLOTS (10/110)
Least favorite episode: CHARIOTS OF WAR (02/102)

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