I never go looking for a particular kind of music [to write by]. It’s always a case of knowing it when I hear it. That said, I have favourite Indie composers whose work resonates with me and often puts me in the mood to write.
Jo Blankenburg is one such composer, and his album ‘Elysium’ was at the heart of Miira, book 1 of Innerscape. This time around, the minor keys and slightly syncopated rhythm of his track, Stillness Speaks, is helping me find the mood for Death, a very different kind of character.
I read the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood a long time ago, and loved it in the way you love something so horrifying you can’t stop reading.
I knew there was a TV adaptation, but I’ve never wanted to watch it, so this music is completely new to me. And I love it. I’ll be listening to ‘She’s a monster’ a lot today as I write the scene in which Hands discovers that it’s been betrayed. 🙂
If you’re still enjoying your weekend, have fun. If, like us, you’re yawning your way through Monday morning…take heart, the sun’s shining!
My thanks to the Pinkagendist for introducing me to a cellist by the name of Hauser. Just watched his version of Albinoni’s Adagio [often paired with the Pachelbel Canon], and the sheer, virtuoso, passion of his playing almost broke my heart.
And, icing on the cake, the conductor is a woman. A first for me. All I can say is “at long last!”
Even if you don’t like classical music, or the cello, please give this video a try because it truly is something special:
I’ve been doing a lot of creative type writing lately – thank dog – and music is an integral part of my writing process, so I’ve been actively hunting for tracks that ‘talk to me’. This is the latest one I discovered on SoundCloud:
This music defies easy description. The closest I can come is to call it ‘atmospheric’, but more in an emotional sense than in a ‘world’ sense. It kindles emotions…in me, emotions that fit the characters I’m writing about.
The Vokh and iVokh know pleasure and pain, hatred and fear, honour and betrayal, and some even feel intense loyalty and protectiveness towards each other, but none of them feel the softer, tender emotions we humans take for granted.
To write the character of an iVokh, I need to feel the dark emotions it experiences, and for that I need dark, haunting music, like this.
I’ve just been introduced to Nightwish – the love child of heavy metal and opera – and I’ll be listening to more of their music in the future. For now, I just want to save this song to my blog so I can find it without relying on memory, or searching Youtube for hours.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is Nightwish:
I know this kind of music won’t be to everyone’s taste, but look at those faces in the crowd! So young and so turned on to the music. They know the lyrics, just like the crowds at a ‘normal’ rock concert. It’s wonderful to see, because they are the ones who may advance the evolution of opera into a vibrant art form for the future.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised as Evanescence was a huge phenomenon. This is from eleven years ago:
One of the things that always drew me to Metal was that it was melodic. Melody with a driving rhythm equals passion to my ears.
Anyway, it’s Monday morning, and Nightwish has given my day a fabulous start. I hope yours starts, or ends, as well. 🙂
I know I should be writing a post about Vokhtah, but I haven’t been this inspired in a long while, so here’s that dark scene from my latest WiP instead. And because so much of that inspiration has flowed from Lucas King’s incredible compositions, I’m including another dark track that I discovered today. It’s called The Grinning Man:
Excerpt from ‘Kahti’, book 2 of the Suns of Vokhtah
The Escapee took a long time to die, and all the Messengers stationed outside the door breathed a sigh of relief when its wordless keen finally stopped. All, that is, except for Death; it stayed silent and unmoving until the Yellow opened the door and ordered it inside.
Once inside, however, Death could not suppress a hiss of disgust as the melange of blood and body wastes assaulted its cilia. The stench grew progressively worse as it followed the Yellow down the short passage from the door to the main cavern.
“Throwing in pool,” the Yellow said, pointing a long finger at the body curled up in the middle of the floor. “And not forgetting…head first.”
A wet stain had spread around the body, blurring its outlines, but there was no sign of a wound until Death grabbed the Escapee by the ankles and flipped it onto its back. Only then did it see the bloody ruin where the groin sack had been, and the two eyeballs lying orphaned on the sand.
Jumping back with a hiss, it stared at the body in shock. It had seen bodies, or parts of bodies before, out in the Wild, but never anything to rival this deliberate, careful savagery…
The Yellow’s mocking laughter echoed from the passage until it was cut short by the slamming of the door.
Quivering with hatred, Death dragged the body into the bathing cavern and hauled it into the pool. Wrestling it into the correct position, however, proved to be an exercise in frustration as the current kept trying to suck the wings in first. In the end, it was forced to pull the body out of the pool and roll it up in its wings before feeding it into the fissure again. This time the Escapee was sucked away without a trace.
Once the body was gone, Death grabbed the slop bucket and returned to the main cavern where it sank to its knees beside the stain. It had almost finished digging out the filthy sand when it noticed a glimmer of white on the floor, near the Yellow’s perch. The glimmer turned out to be a jagged shard of ceramic, roughly the length of a finger…
“And sharp“, Death thought as it hurriedly withdrew its hand. A drop of fresh blood dripped from its finger as it scurried back to the bathing cavern. Grabbing a drying cloth, it hurried back to the main cavern where it kept one eye on the passage as it wrapped the shard in the cloth and placed the bundle in the bucket. It had just shovelled the last of the dirty sand on top when a voice said, “Still smelling bad.”
Startled, Death spun around and saw one of the Messengers standing at the end of the passage.
“Yellow wanting to know how much longer being,” the Messenger said, its cilia retracted to half their normal length. “Just finished,” Death said as it reached for the bucket. “Only needing to empty rubbish.”
Out in the main passage, the Yellow and the other Messengers flattened themselves against the walls as Death edged past with the bucket.
“Pah!” one of the Messengers cried as it fell in behind Death.
As expected, both Messengers stayed well back to avoid the smell, and neither followed Death into the waste pit. The moment they were out of sight, Death put the bucket down and hurried over to the edge of the wooden platform that jutted out over the waste pit. The platform had been part of the ramp building project, and each plank rested on two massive beams that had been attached to the walls of the shaft with arm-long starrock spikes. Some of the spikes stuck out more than others.
Dropping to its belly next to the wall on the left, Death dug the claws of its feet into the gaps between the planks and hung its upper body over the edge. If it twisted just so…
The small ceramic pot hung in a cradle of sturdy leather that was hooked over the end of one of the spikes. Unhooking the cradle, Death pulled the pot up onto the platform and quickly undid the knots.
It had stolen the pot of fast acting poison four years before, soon after being assigned to the Yellow. But the Yellow had never eaten anything prepared by its Assistant, and so the pot had remained unused. But not discarded. Death had thought about the pot many times during that first terrible year, but things had never been quite bad enough…
“And now having something better,” it thought with glee as it held the pot out over the void and opened its fingers. The pot fell for a long time before a distant smash signalled that it had finally met its end. The easy way out was gone.
Hurrying back to the bucket, Death dug the shard out of the sand and hissed in dismay when it saw that the soft cloth was already worn through in spots. The fat end of the wedge would have to be blunted or it would useless. Luckily sand was an excellent abbrasive.
Wrapping the cloth around the tip of the wedge until it formed a thick, padded lump, Death dug the fat end into the sand, again and again, until the sharp edges were scraped away. If there had been more time, it would have bound the blunted end in overlapping layers of leather, but there was no time so it cut a rectangle of cloth instead and wrapped it around the blunted end of the shard before securing the lot with a strip of leather.
The knife was far from perfect, but Death’s cilia quivered with joy as it gently inserted its new weapon into a crack and hid the end with a couple of pebbles. Messengers did not use weapons, but Tellers did, and whatever else Death may have become since entering the Settlement, it still knew how to use a knife.
“What taking so long?” the Junior Messenger demanded when Death finally emerged from the waste pit.
Death knew it should ignore the question, but as it pushed past its escort, a daemon of mischief made it say, “Trying to escape, of course.”
The two Messengers snorted in contempt, but when Death finally lay down on its pallet and closed its eyes, it slept like a newborn.
For those who haven’t read anything about the iVokh before, they’re humanoid-ish aliens who are all hermaphrodites. Because of their biology, they only ever refer to each other using gender neutral pronouns. And because the iVokh are distant cousins of the much bigger, aggressive Vokh, they follow the Vokh custom of keeping their personal names a secret. Thus they refer to each other as either ‘it’ or as the position in society that they occupy – e.g. Healer, Acolyte, Teller, etc.
Oh, and they all fit somewhere along a continuum of sociopathy. A subset of iVokh called Traders are the least sociopathic and have a strong sense of community, and honour. Death was once a Trader, but now it’s a Messenger, one of the enforcers of the Guild of Healers.
I hope most other things in the excerpt you can work out for yourselves because now I want to talk about this music! Widds commented in the last post about the bass notes of The Silent Place, and how it made us feel ‘wibbly-wobbly’. 😀 Well, this piece is very similar in that the melody is carried by the bass notes, all of which have a…resonance…that is almost visceral.
In most of the music we’re used to, the melody is carried by the higher notes while the bass provides a kind of ‘rhythm section’; it’s subordinate to the treble. In the Grinning Man this pattern is almost completely reversed with the higher notes [played by the right hand] being an almost hypnotic accompaniment to the growling melody played by the left hand. Most of that melody is also in a minor key – the ‘sad’ key. Put it all together and you have a piece of music that you, or at last I, cannot forget. 🙂
I’ve come across some brilliant Indie composers since I discovered SoundCloud, and I’ve showcased some of them on this blog, but Lucas King is the only one I would unashamedly label a ‘genius’. His music is classical but different, yet he isn’t going all atonal just to be seen as ‘different’. He’s simply writing what he feels, and boy does it speak to me. And he’s still in his twenties.
Okay, I’ll stop gushing now. Thank you for reading, and listening.
This is not the post I’d planned, but I’m utterly taken with this music and just had to share. It’s another one of Lucas King’s piano compositions, and it’s called The Silent Place. It also happens to be perfect for a scene I just wrote about Death [Vokhtah 2].
To hear any of these tracks, just click the bright orange button.
First up is a piano piece that I’ve fallen in love with, not just because it’s great writing music, but because the piano is ‘my’ instrument. It’s the instrument I studied for ten years, and it’s the one I wish I could play as well as this. 🙂
The second track, also by the same composer, is called ‘Vampire’. I know vampires are supposed to be scary, but this tracks seems more like an exploration of contrasts, inner and outer. Or perhaps the conflict between appearance and reality. It works perfectly for the character of Death in the second Vokhtah book. Death is a Healer on the outside, but inside it still has the loyalties and instincts of a Trader, traits it must never, ever reveal. A bit like Kenneth Wu, actually. It seems as if I really do like tortured characters:
The third track is a more typical, ‘epic’ piece for orchestra and choir. It’s wild and aggressive with hints of an ‘Arabian’ theme coming through. Again, perfect writing music for high octane moments:
And to finish up a youtube video you may like. It shows how composer Samuel Kim – who appears ridiculously young! – brings in and controls the tracks or ‘threads’ of his compositions. Each new ‘line’ represents a new instrument or voice. I assume he must have created each track separately, but how did he hear them all as a complete orchestration? The nerd in me is jumping up and down with excitement. 🙂