Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Sound of Music

Wikiommons and I are BFF.
Okay guys, going to go on a bit of a excited rant today, but I just have to share.

You know how when you finish a rough draft, and like a good little writer, you wait a while to start revision? Only now as you're trying to revise, you can't remember why you loved this idea in the first place. Writing the book seems so long ago. It would be easier to just start another book, and leave this one out in the cold to die of exposure.

At least, that's what that evil voice inside your head is telling you.

The trick is to find a way to fall in love with your story all over again. You might have different methods, but for me I always go back to what made me fall in love with the story in the first place. 

Usually, it's the initial idea coupled with music. I guess it's just how my subconscious articulates my story ideas to me, but I've always made elaborate playlists for the book in general and characters specifically. Through listening to songs I can feel what my character feels, and even get images of scenes.

During writing, it keeps me going when I lose track of why I started the book. During revision, it has the extra benefit of reminding me why I love the book so much.  All I have to do is play a certain song, and I am right back to the first love. 

Elizabeth Davis showed me this awesome little widget called Grooveshark, where you can load music into a little mini playlist. Naturally I spent a few hours loading music so you guys could hear some of the songs that inspired me while I was writing "The Heart's Remains".  You should be proud of the restraint I showed; my first impulse was to put, like, a hundred songs into that bad boy. Then I thought, "Wait, no one is going to actually listen to this. Simmer down."

I was very, very impressed with Grooveshark's music selection. I have...varied music tastes. Songs are basically little books to me, so I've heard a lot of weird and strange songs. Rock, pop, symphonic metal, and indie are my favorite, but I have a little bit of everything in my music library. 

But Grooveshark came through for me. For example, Iced Earth, while well known in some circles, isn't exactly as popular as Lady Gaga. Also, the particular song of Iced Earth's that I wanted wasn't their most popular. But Grooveshark had both the album and live version, which makes me oh so happy because "A Question of Heaven" is one of the top three songs that fueled my inspiration. I wanted you guys to have the chance to hear if it the urge struck you. 

Word to the Wikicommons.
Even more obscure than Iced Earth are songs from "Dance of the Vampires". Here's the story behind "Dance of the Vampires" and where I show you what a geek I truly am.

"Dance of the Vampires" is a Broadway adaptation of a film called "The Fearless Vampire Hunters, or Excuse Me, but Your Fangs are in My Neck" directed by none other than Roman Polanski (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown). It's every bit as campy and creepy as you would expect from the name. Then for some reason they thought it would make a great musical, and so it was made into a German musical, "Tanz Der Vampire". Jim Steinman, the guy that wrote Meat Loaf's music before they had a falling out, wrote the songs for the musical, so many of score sounds vaguely familiar.

THEN they decided to adapt it for Broadway. Michael Crawford himself took the lead, but after lots of creative problems, they canceled the shows and lost tons of money. Despite the problems the show had, the songs are awesome. If you're writing about vampires, doomed heroes, or just want to add some gothic horror to your mood music, this soundtrack is for you. The songs I found are "Endless Appetite", "Original Sin,", and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Steve Barton and "Seize the Night" by Kyle Gordon. 

If you like those songs, there are two songs I couldn't find on Grooveshark that are amazing: "Braver than We Are" and "Dance of the Vampires." (note, "Dance of the Vampires" is the German version because I cannot find the English version on Youtube. But the German version is also awesome so you're not missing out. Elaine Caswell sings in the English version, so if you want to go spelunking on the Internets, my hat's off to you.)

Also, to highlight some awesome songs since I did load lots of them in there:

"Snuff" by Slipknot. I know, I know. You're thinking you hate heavy metal. But this song is slower and has less thrashing than you would think. Also, the lyrics are friggin' amazing, most notably "If I can change, I hope I never know." Seriously, this song just tears my heart out. Tragic villain, anyone?

Also, if you're looking for more villain/antagonist type songs, "Talons" by Bloc Party is a good choice. "I have been wicked. I have been arrogant." Sings the band, and so might your characters!

Oh yeah, HIM! HIM and I go way back. Yes, I went through a goth phase in high school, how did you know? The thing I like about HIM is their lyrics are very, very over the top. I mean, stuff like "Have no fear, there are wounds that are not meant to heal." But Valo, the lead singer, has a smooth, upbeat voice. So it's almost like he's giving you the thumbs up while he's talking about being sad. It takes the edge off for what could be too much melodrama. At least, that's my opinion. I've gone back and forth with some friends about how effective their songs are because of the melodramatic lyrics.

Nick Cave! Surely you guys have heard of him. He is one of the greatest male vocalists today, in my very humble opinion. I resisted the urge to upload five or six more of his songs in my Grooveshark player, just so you know. *pats self on the back*

Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Sarah McLachlin's "Do What You Have to Do" called "Track 5" in Grooveshark. It's an amazing song. "I had the sense, to recognize that I don't know how to let you go." Maaaaaaaaan. 

So yeah. I give unto you a smidgen of my playlist for "The Heart's Remains." I have to stop talking about the songs right now, or this post is going to go on forever. (*Is hasn't already?* Someone snarks in the back. I heard you.)

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