Month: February 2016

The Inspiration Behind “Sirens” by Doug Schmidt

Alex approached me about composing an orchestral piece for Esprit Orchestra last summer. This was just prior to my moving to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in South Vietnam from Dusseldorf, Germany.

I had envisioned composing a piece based on the broad concept and inspiration of ‘Sirens’, ancient mythological birds with female human heads known for their hypnotic songs and luring sailors into the ocean deep to their eventual deaths.


I began writing the piece shortly after moving and it began to acquire a host of associated meanings and intention.

My intention was to write a sort of tone poem. The first section of the piece represents the songs of sirens (featuring piccolo and bassoon), the central part represents the futile struggle of the main character (featuring harmonium organ) who succumbs to the song, and the final section is presented as the individual reflecting on his entrapment by the siren song (alto flute, oboe, flute, clarinets) presented as a fragmented counterpoint revealing distorted and convoluted memories of his past life.

Doug Schmidt

Doug Schmidt, Composer

I liked the asian concept of one interrupted breath per phrase on the woodwinds representing the sirens and the harmonium pump organ with lung like breathing bellows representing the soul or life of the main character. So the piece by default became a type of concerto grosso where a group of instruments are featured within a larger ensemble.

Through the course of composing the work it assumed a much larger symbolism for me, representing how we all are attracted like moths to our gadgets and the often inaccurate news media who manipulates our emotions and thoughts, transforming us into very different beings. This is a sort of death of our true selves and is so slowly accomplished that we can only try and remember who we really were.

Here is a pic of a Saigon traffic jam, a unique phenomenon taken by a friend of mine!


– Doug