music

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.

Holiday Tunes 2015

First off, I just want to say hello to all those who have noticed that I am doing some reconstruction on my blog. This one is going to be my new main and once I’m fully recovered, it’ll be my place to post writing and library news from yours truly with the new year.

Natural-Remedies-for-Gall-Bladder-Stones1Secondly, what do I mean by fully recovered? Well, here’s the truth. I just had my gallbladder removed a week and a half ago. It blew. Like, not even regular sucked. It has been such a drawn out process  of getting diagnosed, getting it removed, and finally going through this long and drawn out recovery (complete with complications), that I can honestly say that I have never been through a medical experience like this before and I never want to go through one like this again. I think even my worst Crohn’s pain relaxed after a single shot of dilaudid. Some of this? Not so much.

So…how have I been passing the time? Sleep mostly. But over the last day or so, I have noticed that my mood has been so down while everyone else’s is getting higher because of the holidays. And that bums me out in the biggest way because I love the holidays! Christmas is my favorite time of year! Plus we just had our first beautiful snow…

…and I couldn’t even enjoy it. So in order to get myself out of it, I put together my ideal Christmas Playlist for 2015!

I am into a variety of music from oldies to the random and I tried to use this to my advantage when making my selection for this year’s list. While there are some “repeat offenders” on my list (because their work is just so fantastically well done in my eyes/ears), I’d say it’s a pretty nice varied list. What do you think?

Christmas-Music-2

  • “Les Cloches du Hamleau” by Celine Dion
  • “The Nutcracker Suite” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • “I Saw Three Ships” by Sting
  • “A Marshmallow World” by Seth MacFarlane
  • “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings” by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan
  • “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” by Bette Midler
  • “Early Christmas Morning” by Cyndi Lauper
  • “Baby its Cold Outside” by Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles
  • “Silent Night” by Karen Newman
  • “O Holy Night” by Celine Dion
  • “Oi to the World” by No Doubt
  • “Carol of the Bells” by John Williams
  • “Happy Christmas (War is Over) by John Lennon
  • “Run Rudolph Run” by Hanson
  • “The Christmas Song” by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” by Frank Sinatra
  • “What Christmas” by the Drifters
  • “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” by the Barenaked Ladies
  • “Ave Maria” by Karen Newman
  • “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Bette Midler
  • “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Seth MacFarlane
  • “Sleigh Ride” by the Barenaked Ladies
  • “Take a Break Guys” by the Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • “Green Christmas” by the Barenaked Ladies
  • “All I Want for Christmas” by Olivia Olson
  • “Merry Christmas Baby” by Christina Aguilera and Dr. John
  • “The Dreidel Song” by the Barenaked Ladies
  • “Once Upon a December” by Denna Carter
  • “Winter Light” by Tim Finn
  • “Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Among some of my favorite selections on the list are “O Holy Night” by Celine Dion, “Early Christmas Morning” by Cyndi Lauper, “Winter Light” by Tim Finn, and anything I choose by the Barenaked Ladies and Seth MacFarlane.

Celine may seem like a dated choice, but her voice is so rich and entrancing that the climatic chorus in her version of “O Holy Night” gives me goosebumps each and every time. I’m pretty sure anyone who disagrees with this idea must be some type of cyborg (prove me wrong otherwise). “Early Christmas Morning” is a  personal favorite from my youth as it always reminds me of my nieces as young children and seeing their holidays photos, grinning under heads of bright blond hair. Even though they are both college students now, I still think of them as children when I hear this song. “Winter Light” is a bit of an odd choice as it really wasn’t meant to be a Christmas song. It originally came from the soundtrack to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. But when I listen to the lyrics, I honestly can’t help but think of the Virgin Mary being approached by the shepherds and Wise Men that first holiday, holding the new born Savoir in her arms. Or is it just me?

As for BNL, they are my favorite band and probably always will be. So to see their fun takes on holiday tunes is no surprise. Neither should be my selections from Seth MacFarlane.

For those who don’t know, there is only one man I would probably leave my husband for and that man is Mr. Family Guy himself, Seth MacFarlane. He is a man of multiple talents and the one that makes me swoon is his Frank Sinatra-esque musical ability. Not only is his take on “A Marshmallow World” fun and playful, but when I found out he did a version of “Baby Its Cold Outside,” I got really excited because it meant I’d be able to sing along to a duet with him (my apologies to Sara Bareilles). If you haven’t heard either song, look them up. I promise they will put you in a holiday mood, just like the rest of his album “Holiday for Swing.”

HangtagGallbladder_1024x1024So until I heal completely and get a regular appetite back, I shall sit and do some crochet and listen to my music, revving myself up for the holidays that I knew I will enjoy in the days to come. Until then, might I suggest this adorable gallbladder stuffy as a Christmas present for me? Might as well commemorate the occasion, right?