How would you capture the depth of the ocean in your writing? How would you creatively sculpt its darkness, its mystery, its vastness, and its beauty into words? How would you even go about composing such a piece? Everything about John Luther Adams “Become Ocean” does this. There is a natural grace, a gentle ambiance, and an escalating reverence that perfectly captures how mankind loves, venerates, disrespects, and is in awe of the ocean. But the song isn’t just about what the ocean is; it is about becoming it. It’s about transforming and transporting.
I was lucky enough to have been introduced to “Becoming Ocean” through the Discover Weekly playlist in Spotify, an online music program. The playlist updates weekly, introducing you to 30 new songs each Monday. Last week was when I was graced with “Becoming Ocean”. It is a collaborative effort of composer John Luther Adams, Ludovic Morlot, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Greetings! It’s been a while since I came out with another Inspiration Through Music, but this Halloween season I’ve found more than a few incredible pieces of music to share with you. The first and foremost will be the soundtrack from indie horror game “Neverending Nightmares” created by Matt Gilgenbach. I had seen a trailer for this game sometime ago and instantly fell in love with the Edward Gorey-esque artwork, dark plot, and ambient music. For those of you that have been following these music blogs for a while, you’ll know that I have a particular affinity for ambient music and definitely video game soundtracks. Neverending Nightmares never disappoints with its mixture of low melodic tunes, spine-tingling children’s cries, and haunted music box lullabies.
Today isn’t necessarily an exercise in seeing scenes while listening to music as much as it is appreciating said music. There are times when I get stuck while writing; happens to the best of us. Often we get up, we go for a walk, we fold laundry, wash dishes, watch a movie…anything to get our minds off of it so that, hopefully, an answer will come to us through something else. I often will listen to some music…and usually, it’s from a selection of video game soundtracks that I hold in high regard. Video game soundtracks can and often are a form of art. Growing up with Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Playstation… I’ve been introduced to several gorgeous compositions that have fully immersed me in the world of the game and often inspired me in my writing. If we’re being honest here…there are dozens upon dozens of game soundtracks that I own and adore. But, today, I’m going to share with you my top ten along with why I enjoy them. So…here we go!
When it comes to the world of soundtracks for horror video games, there are very few at are as well-known and prolific as Akira Yamaoka, the composer for the Silent Hill franchise as well as other games. Silent Hill evokes an energy charged, haunting aura that always makes one uncomfortable and looking over ones shoulder. With a blend of rock, trip-hop, and ambient that is unlike most anyone’s music out there, he has effectively created a world that we can lose ourselves in when we listen to some of his breath-taking and chilling scores. My personal favorite soundtrack of his comes from Silent Hill 4: The Room, a playthrough that my favorite LPer, HarshlyCritical just finished up. The story line and the twisted antagonist for this title really engaged me as did the various themes heard throughout the various worlds of the game.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve listened to Yamaoka while working on writing projects. I was introduced to his music by a friend in highschool who burned me a couple of the soundtracks to listen to. I knew very little about Silent Hill then, but was still amazed by the music and knew it would be an excellent inspiration for not only my horror titles, but also a historical fiction I was working on and an incredibly secret project which has been in development for several years. Today, I’m going to pick five songs to share with you and tell you what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy! [Just so you know, I had the WORST time trying to pick just five. I had thirteen listed here before…]
(photo and artwork above copyrighted to Zach Mitchell)
As I’ve mentioned before several times, ambient music is my cup of tea. It’s the kind of music that inspires me the most while working on a book because I find these songs to just be so much deeper and easier to get lost in. They are like their own little worlds where in we can see fragments of characters, scenes, and circumstances. I keep a playlist on Spotify (okay, a couple) of just ambient, instrumental music (usually of the more dark sounding nature) from which I can work on my Monstrum Chronicles series and my new apocalyptic fiction, Cold Walls. At the core of this playlist is a musician whom I discovered a couple years ago on Bandcamp when I was searching for Martin Stig Anderson’s amazing Limbo Soundtrack. I discovered Atra Aeterna and his album “Machinations”. Folks, I discovered gold that day.
As of late, things have been kind of crazy. I’ve been trying to set up numerous events for the fall, whilst trying to get a summer photo contest underway, attempt to edit my novel, and write two more at the same time. I’ve been waiting on a few email replies as well. Nothing seems to be more aggravating than waiting for an email… especially if it is an important one. So, one night last week, I returned home and eagerly logged on, hoping that I had finally received word about something so that I could put it to rest. No such luck. There was an email, however, from someone telling me how much they loved my Inspiration Through Music blogs. I appreciate this gesture more than you can imagine. Up until now, I wasn’t even sure people were reading these posts because of how little feedback I got in terms of likes and comments. Anyway, they gave me a recommendation for a little band that I hadn’t heard of at the time, Aurah. I listened to their song, Khorwa, and was absolutely blown away. How had I not heard of these guys before? This is exactly the kind of thing I love to listen to while writing.
Ambient music can be one of the most inspiring genre’s of music in my opinion. It’s filled with various sounds and instrumentals in some cases all constructed in a way that ask for you to look beyond the melody and rhythm. You can see things happening to each and every unusual noise that happens. The music is meant to be background noise, it’s meant to keep your ears on alert. What I’ve always found with listening to ambient music is that my ears are able to recognize a lot of these various sound effects and translate them into scenery for my writing. When the ambient music is mixed with classical, it trancends a level of beauty that I find very hard to describe. Any piece of music that can stimulate my inspiration but also be enjoyable to listen to on its own is always, in my opinion, brilliant. Very recently, with Spotify as my tool for finding new music, I was introduced to the works of Bersarin Quartett. I’ve never been so excited about ambient music so much.
Every time I do one of these Inspiration Through Music blogs, I wonder what it is that my readers get out of reading this. Besides discovering new music, there is an appreciation that I hold for all of these different artists, soundtracks, and styles of music. There is something in them that, no matter what they are, helps me to be able to write, to do what I love to do. In a way, they assist in a kind of weekly writing exercise that is great practice at keeping my mind sharp. Working a busy schedule, I don’t always have a moment to sit down and work on my books. I’ve got groceries, cleaning, cooking, and the obligatory playing with the lemon-eyed demon. It’s nice when I can just sit down, turn on some music, close my eyes, and be able to just “feel” where a song is taking me. Not only “feel” the song, but be able to translate what I’m seeing into words. I had the pleasure of being able to do that this week while listening to Fink, someone I discovered only a couple weeks ago.
Cry of Fear is a custom full-conversion modification for the video game Half Life 1. (I honest to God tried to explain this better in a paragraph but… I just confused myself. If you’re really curious, click this link.) The mod was created by Team Psykskallar. The story is about of a deeply depressed individual named Simon who awakens in a dark alleyway after being hit by a car. He spends the game trying to get home and evades several monsters whom have appeared on his journey. The game is very psychological and the character spends several moments of the game wondering if he’s gone insane. It was the music in this mod however, that truly had me engrossed.