As a new sporting chapter in the FEI’s nation-versus-nation competition is set to begin, the Longines League of Nations™ is also preparing to unveil its official anthem and sonic identity at the opening leg of the Series that will take place in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on 11 February.
The Series anthem has been written by Portuguese composer Rui Ribeiro, who has made a name for himself in the world of classical crossover music with his compositions that are often based on the sounds of nature.
Ribeiro’s anthem for the equestrian Series primarily revolves around a horse’s footfall, which refers to the pattern in which a horse moves its feet when it walks, trots, canters and gallops.
“I spent a lot of time listening and observing, and over the eight weeks it took me to compose the anthem, I first watched many hours of Jumping competitions without really thinking about the music,” Ribeiro explained.
“People may think that music and sport are separate worlds, but I can tell you that understanding and feeling rhythm is key for both musicians and equestrians. If you listen carefully, you will notice that a horse usually walks in a regular 1-2-3-4 beat. But for me it was the horses three-beat canter and four-beat gallop that provide the pace and natural rhythm I was looking for to compose the Longines League of Nations™ anthem.
“Once I had the rhythmic framework in place, I started to create the melodies based on what I saw. It’s difficult to ignore the incredible level of trust the horse and human must have in each other when they’re jumping over those high fences! So, I decided to give the anthem three sections. The first and last sections have more energy as they correspond to the sporting action we see in the arena and the middle is slow paced and emotional as it reflects this beautiful bond between the rider and the horse and time and patience required to develop this relationship.”
With a duration of 5 minutes and 11 seconds, the anthem will serve as a basis for shorter adaptations which will accompany TV and web spots. Parts of the anthem will also be used in-venue to highlight different aspects of sports presentation and will be produced by Ricardo Ferreira who co-owns Lisbon based BLIM Records with Ribeiro.
“Sport, like music, has the ability to create strong emotions in people and we’ve been fortunate to work with Rui Ribeiro, a composer who has understood the emotional value of the horse and human connection and how to translate this musically for the Longines League of Nations™ Series,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus said.
“The nation-versus-nation format has always created an emotionally charged atmosphere in-venue, and the spectators in the stands connect with each other through a shared passion for the sport and the camaraderie which goes hand in hand with representing your nation. With the best teams in the world taking part in the Series, the sporting action is going to be as intense as ever, and we wanted to make the key moments of the sport resonate more strongly with a sonic identity for the Series.
“It has been said that people think about what they see, but feel what they hear. And we want the fans watching in the stands, but also at home on TV, to be able relive the excitement and the emotion of the sport long after they have left the venue.”
Listen to the full anthem here
The canter is a fast, asymmetrical, three-beat gait in which three distinct footfalls can be heard. In the first beat, one hind hoof hits the ground; in the second beat, the opposite hind hoof and diagonal front hoof hit the ground; finally, in the third beat, the remaining front hoof hits the ground; this is followed by a suspension. This sequence is repeated in a regular 1,2,3, pause rhythm.
The gallop is the horse’s fastest gait. As an asymmetrical gait, it is characterised by four distinct beats, one hoof at a time, followed by a moment of suspension. The footfall sequence is similar to the canter, but the canter´s second beat is extended to two beats due to the longer stride length, making the gallop a four-beat gait.
Image: FEI / Liz Gregg