Day 4: Music & Setting & Character & Theme

Well, tomorrow’s the big day! Is anyone else excited besides me? I’m actually a little nervous. Those I have let read the script thus far say it is fantastic, but are they saying that just because they are friends and family? I don’t know. Either way, when you read it I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Music goes with writing like cream goes with coffee. It blends and sets a flavor and mood. So it’s really not a surprise to find that a lot of writers listen to music while they are working on their projects. I am an avid participant in the annual event National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to the veterans). Sure as anything, every year there is a post in the forums about soundtracks and what one listens to while they write.  There have even been programs arranged where writers will exchange music with each other, just to add to the fun aspects of the marathon.

As you might have guessed, I am going to talk about music in this post because the honest truth is music played a large part in the construction of the novel, Lore: the Legend of River.

As I have stated before, Bill Whelan’s soundtrack for the Broadway show Riverdance provided a basis for inspiration for the novel.  The show, based on Irish folklore and dance, provided a lot of Celtic themes for me. There was a wide range within the soundtrack that could be very dark at times, and then climax to moments of great celebration. There was a story line within the music itself that I desired to expand on. Because of that, I tried to stay focused on those Celtic themes throughout the novel.  In addition to the music of Riverdance, I also found inspiration in the Hans Zimmer soundtracks for Sherlock Holmes and the work of the Irish band, Lunasa.

Reel Around the Sun being performed...
Reel Around the Sun being performed…

The piece that really established the mood of Lore for me was “Reel Around the Sun” from the Riverdance soundtrack. The novel begins with the prologue of how River, the queen of the gods, raises up her brethren after a century long slumber as the earth lay in ash after falling in destruction. As this happens, she tells the gods and especially her brother, Verselus, the earth must be rebuilt. They set to work. Soon, however, there is conflict. River’s lover, LaXiva, takes the sprite, Dervish, in an attempt to steal her innocence. Verselus steps in and LaXiva flees, Dervish unconscious under his spell.

This is what I visualized as I listened to the music of “Reel Around the Sun.” The song is delicately divided into three parts, known as “Slow Air,” “The Chronos Reel,” and “Reel Around the Sun.”  Given these titles, it seems to be no surprise that I would think of such events during the entirety of the track. During “Slow Air,” the earth is settling into place as River raises everyone from their rest, ready to make the world whole once again. “The Chronos Reel” plays as the gods work to renew the earth and make it fruitful. “Reel of the Sun” plays as Verselus (whom I deem in the novel as the god of the sun) pursues LaXiva (whom ultimately comes to represent darkness). Within the span of eight minutes, Whelan manages to paint a picture with a variety of beats and tones.

Knowing that I wanted to stay with Celtic themes for the remainder of the novel’s inception, I was rather amazed in 2009 and 2011 when I picked up the soundtracks for the movies Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows how well Hans Zimmer produced a range of music that worked not just so well for the films, but on a multifaceted front. I was quickly informed by a friend (coughBRIDGETcough) that anyone familiar with Zimmer’s work would know that this is not out of his reach. But I was surprised as I started to take pieces from the soundtracks and applied them to different introductions of characters.

Ickus, who is mad and has rather odd tendencies, seems to be defined quite well by “The Mycroft Suite” as the piece has a rather simple, yet heavy edge to it. One may not be sure what to expect as the sprite hops from corner to corner, tilting his head at odd angles as he attempts to understand certain situations. With the human Cattaran befriends whom refers to herself as Audience, he finds himself in the presence of an older woman who is anything but a traditional lady. She is hands on, brusque, and has the boy figured out within a manner of minutes. The repeated theme of Sherlock Holmes in the track “It’s So Overt It’s Covert” seems to fit her introduction as Cattaran tries to decide how to handle himself with his new acquaintance.

Lunasa, however, takes the working soundtrack right back to heavier Celtic themes, as they are a Celtic band. The track “Eanáir,” besides being obviously Irish, is dark and foreboding, starting with a very slow pace that picks up into an alarm of strings and whistles. In the chapter of the novel entitled “Rian’s Tale,” River’s daughter finds herself transforming as a god and becoming very sick in a span of moments. The commune of gods go into a panic, immortal in themselves, but never having dealt with such an occurrence. The music fits and sets the mood and theme for the plot of the novel.

Music has the power to add emotion when all other is not present. I myself always find chills rolling down my spine as I watch the character of Robert Langdon bow before the Louvre at the end of the film The DaVinci Code, having found the resting place of Mary Magdalene to the track “Chevaliers de Sangreal” (which was also written by Hans Zimmer). Would any of us feel the same emotion as we watched Col. Robert Gould Shaw lead his soldiers into battle in Glory without the choirs singing in soprano? Would any of us have shed a tear as Frodo left Samwise as he sailed for the Grey Havens in The Return of the King without the soft melody of “Into the West” sending him on his final journey? Some of us would possibly be different. However, if music could have that much of an effect on us in movies, think of what it could do to us when paired with books.

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