Sunday, March 23, 2008

Music for Writers

Many people write to a soundtrack or some kind of background music. Stephen King, for example, writes to Heavy Metal and Hard Rock. I don't usually write to a specific type of music, but I do like the effect music has on my writing. It depends on the mood, but it helps ramp up the time to psyche myself and get into zone. The music does help the flow and prose. Sometimes I'd put in a movie soundtrack that sounds like something from a movie of my novel. :) And I'd usually set the volume to about 6, just loud enough but not too distracting, and I'd put either the entire score or specific tracks on repeat. After a while, the music simply becomes mood for the entire writing session.

For The Terrapin's Trail, I've been listening to a few scores that kind of convey the moods, be they melancholy, intense, sad or exciting. One score I really like is Alexandre Desplat's The Painted Veil. It's a beautiful score which also has Asian elements in it. Another score is Dario Marianelli's Atonement. Again, a post-modern score for a period piece. Just seems right for The Terrapin's Trail, a drama set during the Pacific War.

But I've also been looking for something for my hero and heroine. Something more specific, more in tune with what they're about. My hero is intense, broody, but deeply romantic. My heroine is more carefree, spontaneous and spirited. I wanted to find something specific to capture those moods. Certain tracks on my favorite soundtracks seem to do the job rather nicely. And then I thought: Why not do it myself?

When the mood strikes, there's nothing you can do about it. So I spent a few nights working on some music, something different and get my creative juices flowing. And I must say I rather like the results.

I started with Grace's Theme (click to listen). I also call it Fly, inspired by one of the passages I wrote. It sort of started melancholy and "tentative," as was she in this particular scene, then the mood changes and it becomes cheerier and more spirited, then toward the end it turns soft and romantic. I think it captures the mood and Grace's character quite well. 

The next challenge is Kai's Theme (click to listen). Granted, it's the hero theme and I wanted it to be a bit heroic and grand, but at the same time, intense and personal. I wanted a few specific key notes to emerge, kind of like the Indiana Jones' Theme. You know it's Indiana Jones when that few notes -- Da-da-da-da, da-da-da -- come on. I like the result, but am not sure whether it's exactly what Kai is about. I, however, really love the last part, then the music turns really introspective and deeply romantic, and the hero's theme emerges one last time to end the piece. It's rather bittersweet and is in tune with the ending of the story, actually.

So I'm still working on them, but I don't want to spend too much time. I want to get back to the writing, but I feel energized and I wonder if these two pieces would really help me write their stories.

What do you think?


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