Two weeks ago, I came to the somewhat depressing decision that I needed to rewrite my book (again) from the beginning. And shortly after starting the rewrite, I stopped and started the rewrite again. I’ve probably done this ten or so times with this book. But now, I really feel like I’m in the right place with it. The Wild Dark has been a difficult write for me in many ways that I thought Memento Mori (my latest release) was. The Wild Dark deals most importantly with friendship, loyalty, humanity, depression, and loss. The protagonist longs for a simpler life, a way to lose herself in ordinary routines so that she doesn’t have to face the death of her best friend and failed relationship with her fiance. This all happens in the wake of a supernatural event that brings a strange transformation to the world she knows and loves.
Like all of my stories, I have a playlist of songs that I listen to when working. For this particular story, I have two: one featuring music with lyrics and one without. The without list is long and from the very beginning, has featured music by respected composer James Newton Howard. The most featured of his music is from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village Soundtrack, which (in my opinion) has some of the most beautiful music ever composed. The undulating violins and contemplative, tranquil piano effectively take you inside a world filled with characters who wish to live simpler lives, characters who are innocent and have trouble even conceiving wickedness. They are terrorized by legendary creatures that live in the woods around their bucolic village, creatures who have decided that the peaceful truce they’ve shared for many years is now void. The Village is not so much a horror film as it is a romantic one and that is reflected in every track that Howard wrote. Just like The Village, The Wild Dark is more about the love and bond between two friends and where that takes them than it is about the apocalyptic events surrounding them. Today, I’ll be sharing a few songs from Howard’s soundtrack along with what I see when I listen to them.
In my opinion, the most moving of music is always the music that contains no lyrics. Unless they are vague, lyrics tend to force a certain set of images into one’s mind when listening to a song. They set a theme, they set a story, and a character and really put walls up. They box in your ideas for what this song could be about and who it’s written for. Instrumental music is freer. There’s no male or female vocalist, there is no particular story being told other than the one the instruments tell, and you can feel anything from pain to pleasure as you listen. While I’ve had inspiration from a handful of songs with lyrics while working on books, I primarily listen to instrumental, soundtrack, or ambient music and can dive into a story so much deeper this way. As of late while working on my apocalyptic novel, The Wild Dark, I have fallen in love with a particular composer who I had not had the pleasure of listening to before: the wonderful Arvo Pärt.
Several of you know that I have a soft spot for video game music, particularly well-composed music from indie games. I’ve done several Inspiration Through Music blogs for game soundtracks such as “Limbo”, “Journey”, “Heavy Rain”, and “The Walking Dead”. Now, I’ve found another that has once again shattered my expectations of video game scoring. This soundtrack is phenomenal in the way each instrument is characterized and the range of emotions that can be felt while listening to the various tracks.
Welcome to another wonderful year of Inspiration Through Music! Last year, I posted three separate Inspiration Through Music blogs, treating them as stand alones or promotional pieces for my up and coming books. Never did I imagine that I’d follow through with a weekly music blog all year long. Doing this has taught me that no matter what the genre, there is something in each song that really speaks to me and shows me a different scene in my head almost every time. I love music. I love its diversity, how the notes speak to you, the lyrics make you comprehend situations deeper and the melodies string you along on adventures waiting to be told. I had so much fun going between artists that I’ve been fans of for long periods of time and also brand new bands that I’d only just discovered. That is the wonderful thing about being a writer: no matter what you listen to, you can always come up with a story to put to it. And it helps as a writing exercise, warming you up for that novel you’ve been itching to write for so long. This year, I intend to keep up Inspiration Through Music every Monday with a new band, artist, or song. My goal? To help you get in touch with your inner music lover and writer. Now, let’s listen to some music!
It’s rare for me to find a soundtrack with that whimsical, magical quality. I immediately am reminded of an anime or a music box. Innocent little melodies that can carry a latent darkness in them, perhaps attached to memory but mostly are just piercing reminders to us of the good things in the world. I had the pleasure of recently being introduced to a little indie game called “To The Moon” made by Freebird Games. Another video game Let’s Player, Chaoticmonki, did a playthrough of this game which I watched over the course of a few days. You can find it here. By the end, I knew that I would be buying the soundtrack, composed by Kan R. Gao. You can find that here. It doesn’t happen often when you find a game that emotionally grips you, that tells a compelling story and illustrates hard decisions and even more devastating themes to do so. This game is a jewel. And the music in it is spellbinding, keeping you involved in these character’s struggles the further into the story you progress. Today, I’ll be sharing six songs from the soundtrack with you and some of the things that I imagine when I listen to them.
Inner conflict is one of the sole drives in stories. Characters battling with inner demons about what they should do or coming to terms with what they already have done. To me, there’s nothing more emotive and heart-wrenching, as a simple instrumental song to illustrate this inner turmoil. And it was with extreme excitement a few months back, that I discovered Jessica Curry’s soundtrack to the indie game, “Dear Esther.”
“Dear Esther” is a short paranormal/mystery game created originally as a mod from the Half Life series. I’ve already referenced mods before in my “Cry of Fear Soundtrack” post. My favorite game commentator, HarshlyCritical, did a let’s play of this game which can be found here. The game follows a male protagonist who wanders about an island reminiscing about his lost love and alluding to several scientific formulas and Biblical passages. The game’s pacing is slow but the atmosphere it provides is stunning. And Curry’s score for it ultimately swept me away. Haunting, delicate, and sorrowful in some places but also inspiring and uplifting in others, the 17 track album was probably one of my best buys this year. Today, I’d like to share 8 of those tracks with you.
Classical music is of the utmost importance to my writing. There are times when contemporary rock and roll, trip hop, and pop just isn’t the right thing for the scene. And rarely is there something as pure and beautiful as one of Frederic Chopin’s compositions. Chopin is one of my cardinal four favorite composers (Debussy, Vivaldi, and Dvorak being the others). It’s Chopin’s skill for understanding how to move us with the trickling keys of a piano that moves me the most about his work. Whether upbeat and quick or calmer and gentle, each of the following songs has a special place in a certain writing project of mine. I’d like to share them with you and discuss what it was about each one that spoke to me.