Tag Archives: Jo-Blankenburg

Writing to music

I’ve mentioned before that I always write to music, but I always assumed my choice of music was a random thing based on whatever I was feeling at the time. Today however, I realised that my subconscious always prods me for a specific kind of music, depending on what I am writing.

When I was madly typing Innerscape, my Nanowrimo 2012 project,  my music of choice was Elysium, by Jo Blankenburg. Elysium is epic and passionate but contains undertones of the romantic [at least to me]. However for Vokhtah, the music had to be by Two Steps From Hell. Now that I’ve started working on book 2 of Vokhtah, I automatically went back to Invincible and Archangel, the two public albums released by Two Steps From Hell.

Both Invincible and Archangel feature big, epic, passionate music but most of the tracks are very martial. Those tracks evoke the Vokh – powerful, violent, calculating, deadly. The softer tracks conjure the iVokh, who can be just as calculating and deadly as the Vokh, but there is a softer side to their nature as well. This softness is considered to be a weakness, and so it is hidden, controlled, sublimated, but  it is there. Showing it is the problem.

In writing the iVokh, I had to hint at this hidden softness without turning them into human analogs. The solution was to write their emotions in the negative,  a bit like the negative image of a photograph. For those young things who only know about digital photography, old fashioned film uses a negative which reverses the colours so black becomes white and so on. If you look at a negative, even familiar faces look very different. And that was what I tried to do with the iVokh, juxtaposing the callous things they could do against the callous things they chose not do.

Writing inside out is rather hard to do, and it was not until I discovered Two Steps From Hell that I could do it without constantly second guessing myself. The music allows me to feel the controlled passions my characters are not allowed to express, while, by some strange alchemy, the words that end up on the page evoke their conflicting duality. At least I think they do. 🙂

So, having put that small insight into words, I will now make another cup of coffee and sink back into the music of Two Steps From Hell – my version of heaven.




Elysium, by Jo Blankenburg – my new nanowrimo music

Today dawned cold, wet and miserable, but it’s getting better because I now have a great new CD to listen to! The CD is Elysium by an ex-pat German composer called Jo Blankenburg.

Never heard of him? Neither had I until about half an hour ago when I went looking for some new, epic music to listen to while I write nano. Nano starts in five days [Australian time] and I didn’t want to use my Two Steps from Hell music because those songs belong to Vokhtah somehow. Perhaps it’s just the way my odd little brain works, but the Two Steps from Hell tracks make me feel that harsh planet and its alien inhabitants better than anything else I have ever listened to before. There are moments of soft-ish music but the general mood is strong, determined and angry, attributes that fit the Vokh, and to a lesser extent the iVokh, very well. For nano however, I will be writing about humans for a change and so I needed music with contrasts of tenderness and the other, softer emotions we humans feel with such abandon. And Elysium gives me that.

Unfortunately buying Elysium in time for nano proved to be a bit trickier than finding it. I generally prefer buying actual, physical music CDs because I’m a bit slack when it comes to backups, and with physical CDs I know I will never lose precious music. This time, however, I just didn’t have the time to wait around for Amazon to send me a CD by snail mail. Instead I took the radical [for me] step of signing up with iTunes and buying Elysium through Apple.

Now I know that most of you will have been on iTunes since its inception, but I have always hated the incestuous nature of Apple products and the restrictions placed on their use. I understand the business model, and it has certainly worked for Apple, but I like the freedom of being able burn my CDs so I can listen to them in the car while I’m driving, and I’m pretty sure iTunes won’t let me do that. It’s been a while since The Daughter tried, so apologies if I’m maligning Apple without cause.

Anyway, my point was simply to show that I am a dinosaur forced into the 21st century by need. So, I signed up for iTunes. I downloaded the client side software, installed it, did all the verification protocols and finally managed to reach the part where I could actually get my music. And then I came face to face with the reality of living in Australia. When I was searching for a CD online, Elysium was touted as costing $9.99. Given the relative standing of the Australian dollar at the moment I was expecting to pay just under $9.99 but no, on iTunes, Elysium was going to cost me $16.00.

I’ll be honest, I did think about giving iTunes the finger and going elsewhere, but by then I had already downloaded and installed all the crap. In a very real sense I was primed for gratification NOW. So I gave in and bought the music, blowing my new, self-imposed budget in the process. -sigh-

Needless to say I will be a lot more organized, and self-disciplined, the next time I decide to buy music online because $16.00 is a bit rich when I could buy the mp3 version of the CD for $5.99 from Amazon… if Amazon would only let Australians buy mp3s.  I don’t know why we are not allowed to buy mp3s but that’s the sad reality. Talk about feeling like a 3rd class world citizen. 😦

I don’t wish to end this post on a sour note however, so I’ve included the Youtube video clip of Elysium for your listening enjoyment. Be warned though – it goes for 30 minutes!



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