Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sing for Inspiration

I was four years old when I first sat at a piano intending to learn how to play.  Almost twenty-six years later, I still play.  I've had to modify which instruments I play due to my movement disorder.  When I lost most of my finger dexterity, I traded piano for percussion.  I currently play with the local civic band and orchestra, specializing in mallet percussion.  I also play clarinet and toured Europe playing bass clarinet with a youth symphony, but like the piano, my skills now suffer due to the myoclonus.  The list of other instruments I have played competently is fairly extensive: trombone (my primary instrument in high school), tuba, baritone, trumpet, oboe, saxophone, tin whistle.  I've dabbled with bass guitar, ukulele, and mandolin, but my tiny hands are clumsy on strings.  I was also a deejay at a free-format radio station for five years in college, so I was exposed to a huge variety of music.

Where does this lead me?  Music is the soul of my writing and my life.  I abhor silence, but true silence is rare.  My synesthesia makes listening to music a full-body experience.  The music of nature is not only satisfying but inspiring.  Like Rhodren, I find waterfalls painful but percussive sounds make for a wonderful massage.  And violins always make me itchy.  More on effects of specific instruments can be found on this old post and perhaps this one as well.  I am inspired not only by individual sounds, but by lyrics and feelings within the music.

The Crystal Lattice was resurrected from a half-completed draft by the Muse song "Take a Bow".  I was listening to my MP3 player at work and had an epiphany.  I grabbed a notebook and began to scrawl notes for the rest of the book.  I had no concrete idea of where the book was going when I originally started it in college, but by the end of that song, I knew exactly what I had to write.  Some specific scenes were inspired by Led Zeppelin songs, but the overall book was prompted by Black Holes and Revelations.

Muse has been one of my chronic inspirations.  Mayfly Requiem was inspired by the song "Sing for Absolution".  I was drinking orange juice and coconut rum one night and that song popped onto my playlist.  I put it on a loop and wrote the first three chapters in one night.  Ironically, I had to put away my work in progress, Absolution, to write Mayfly Requiem.  The inspiration was so powerful and overwhelming that I couldn't ignore it.

Echoes of Oblivion has a massive soundtrack.  Individual characters have their own songs, as do pairs and groups of characters.  Here is a partial list:

Tikaari - Norwegian Wood (Beatles),
Aridani - Serenity (Godsmack), I Dare You to Move (Switchfoot)
Moth - Butterflies and Hurricanes (Muse)
Rhodren - Zephyr Song (RHCP), On Mercury (RHCP)
Rastaban - Megalomania (Muse), Roulette (System of a Down)
The Geophorians - Inner Universe (Yoko Kanno)
Ember - Burn it Down (Alter Bridge)
Lirit - Unintended (Muse)
Sevilen - Panic Prone (Chevelle), Anywhere (Evanescence)
Chaos - Where is Everybody (Nine Inch Nails)
Tempo - Vicarious (Tool)

I my full soundtrack is about nine hours long and has everything from Rachmaninoff to Johnny Cash.  I always had to listen to "Inner Universe" to focus myself first before working on Echoes of Oblivion.  Mayfly Requiem didn't really need a trigger, but I usually used "Sing for Absolution".  As for The Crystal Lattice... Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain" is good to get me started.  I'd better get on that now.


  1. I love it! Soundtracks for books are great!!!

    1. Thank you! I have about 12 hours worth of soundtrack for the trilogy and 8 hours for Mayfly Requiem. Sometimes songs trigger entire characters, like Vicarious for Tempo/Lani and Serenity for Aridani. I don't use a whole lot of music for Absolution because the world is so quiet, but Adele and Abigail Washburn (especially City of Refuge) come up. I've noticed the musical feel of this book is a lot different, more feminine perhaps.