Music in A Land of Ice and Stone

Whenever I start on a new story I put together a new playlist for the story. I pick out music that I hope will inspire me and which I think has a mood and a feel that fits with my character and my story.

I also pick out a few signature songs that will serve to represent the main character of the story. Like for Toini, and for Alene. I’m going to do that for Kala as well, but not yet. It’ll probably be a week or two. The story and the character are still both too young for me to really know for sure what songs will work for her.

The basic idea though, and the setting, those are things I’ve bounced around for quite a while. I’ve got a good feel for those. I’ll show you.

Here:

This video captures the feeling of the Kala’s world very well, both the sounds and the images. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show any forest or it would be perfect. I’m a big fan of forests, and they will figure in the story, even if they perhaps don’t exist in this kind of landscape.

Let’s say the forest grows further inland – or something like that, perhaps in valleys shielded from the sea. I’ll try not to worry about it too much.

I should probably spend more energy on figuring out the plot.

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Music in A Land of Ice and Stone

Music for Summer Afternoons

I put a new mix set together. It’s been a while, and this one’s been a long time coming. If I recall correctly I started picking out the tracks back before Christmas already. There was something very appealing about sitting in the dark with the winter rain on the windows and picking out summer music.

This is the end result. I wanted music that gave the same kind of feeling as the dream of the long summer afternoons of memory. I’m sure you’ve had them too.

The set starts out a bit deep, perhaps a bit too much so. The first two tracks aren’t all that light and fluffy. It grows though; gets wilder and stronger. Melodies show up, carefully at first, but they become more daring and towards the end they full out fly through the sound scape.

At least, that’s my take on it, but then it’s also my own selection of music that I put together myself. I’m very clearly biased.

I do hope people enjoy it though, and I hope a bit of that summer feeling shines out through the music.

Music for Summer Afternoons

Soundtrack For A Holy Warrior

A while back, just over a year ago actually, I posted about making a soundtrack for my character Alene – here. It’s been a while since I posted anything at all now, and I figured it was time to post a soundtrack for Toini.

Toini is a paladin, which is a type of holy warrior, and these are the songs I associate most with her at the moment.

1. Fluke – Atom Bomb

This is very much the essence of Toini in her role as a paladin, the way she appears on the surface: strong, unstoppable, and full of power and will. She keeps on going, and she does whatever it takes to reach her goals.

It’s possible she may come off as more than a little bit fanatical, going way beyond the borders of sanity, but that’s who she is. Her god chose her as his hand in the world for a reason.

2. Varien – Valkyrie III (feat. Laura Brehm)

This song gets to represent the other side of Toini – the one her crew sees when she’s not on duty. She’s still a fighter and a crusader, but it’s not always an easy burden to carry, and her duties take their toll on her.

Hers is not an easy life, and it can sometimes be difficult to keep on going.

3. First Aid Kit – America

Like with all people, there’s more to Toini than meets the eye, even for those who know her well, and I picked this song to show that. It’s about travelling, seeing the world, and looking for something that isn’t really there, and which perhaps can’t be found at all.

It’s about the riddles of life and how the answers are sometimes far away and sometimes nearly within grasp, but never quite there.

4. VNV Nation – Primary

With this song I want to show the internal version of Toini in her paladin role. It’s how she feels when she’s carrying out the will of her god. There’s an exhilaration to it that doesn’t come through to the outside.

She’s charging ahead at full speed without hesitation, and without the ability to stop or change direction even if she wanted to – which she doesn’t.

5. Lustral – I Wonder Where You Are

Another slow, melancholic piece. This is a part of Toini that no one ever sees, and that even she herself shies away from. It’s about the memories of her past and about the people she left behind there. They’re no longer a part of her life, and they can never be, but sometimes she still remembers them.

Five songs. Some of these picks were easy, and some were less obvious. I feel like they’re a good representation of the character though. There’s a bit of variety, but there’s an overarching theme that ties them together, even if it may be hard to spot at a glance.

Soundtrack For A Holy Warrior

Magic Machine Music

I made a new mix set:

The title is an obvious play on Metal Machine Music, but other than that, there are no similarity with Lou Reed’s album.

Instead, I tried to pick tracks with a bit of depth and a mystical magical feel to them. In particular, the third track, Reefer Decree’s remix of their old hit Curved Air is the epitome of what I wanted to achieve with this set.

In the end, I didn’t quite manage that, but I still feel I put a really good set together. It starts out deep and dark, and then grows into something brighter and more cheerful with soaring melodies and even a little bit of singing towards the end.

If you’re into electronic music, this should be a good accompaniment to chilling on the sofa with a good book.

Magic Machine Music

Productive Evening

This evening I published two things: one article about writing, and one mix-set.

You can read the article on the Mythic Scribes website here: Speaking Without Words – Writing Body Language

You can listen to the mix-set right here: 

I’m feeling pretty good about both of these things. It would have been cool to put in a third example in the article, but it’s quite long as it is already, and adding even more of what’s already there would have made it too long. Hopefully people will find it worth their while as it is.

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The mix-set suffers from a similar issue. At over 100 minutes of music, I’m worried that it feels a little bit too long. I kind of wanted to try and make a longer set again though. It’s more difficult to give it a natural progression that way, and it’s something I want to learn and experiment with.

This time, there’s a track in the middle (the ninth one, Sym-pathy, by Moshic) that serves as bridge between two different parts of the set. The first part is a bit more melodic, while the second half is harder and darker.

I could have split it completely and made it two sets instead, but it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. I’ll give it some time, and some more listens and then try to evaluate how I feel about it.

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Productive Evening

Telling A Story With Other People’s Music

I put together a new mix-set, and I put together a story to go with it:

This is, I’m certain, my best one so far – and by far. It’s got a theme that runs throughout the entire set and the tracks all work together really well. I feel it’s more of a journey than my previous sets. In that way, it also tells more of a story.

Over the last few days I’ve put the finishing touches on the set and I’ve made the tweaks necessary to get it to the point it’s at now. A part of this process has been to lie down on my bed, with the lights out, and listen to the entire set in one go. This means I’m lying still in the same spot, doing nothing but listening to music for over an hour.

It’s been a great experience and if you have the time and the patience I strongly recommend it. A pair of good headphones won’t hurt either.

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Picture from Burning Man last year. I wanted to go out and take a picture to fit with the theme, but I live in Ireland and it’s been raining all day, so there wasn’t really much point to it. This will do.

During these listening sessions a few images have come back repeatedly, and that’s what forms the story of the set. Below here, I’m recounting the story as it plays out in my mind when I listen to the set. If you’d rather listen to it with an open mind and without my influence, skip the rest of the post.

It all begins with a space ship landing on a desert planet. During the second track you can hear announcements made over the PA at the space port (Horus, by Phoebus and Seamless Beat).

After this comes a long journey through deserts and over mountains. Stops are made at oases and watering holes (Shadow of the Desert, by Vansam). Caves give shelter from the howling mountain winds (Legend of Ararat, by Deng & Slavak). Through it all, the spirits of the land and the ghosts of the long dead can be heard whispering in the night (The Silk Road, by Stanisha (and pretty much all other tracks too)).

At long last, the journey reaches its destination: an excavation at the site of an ancient temple somewhere deep in the mountains. Something has gone terrible wrong, and far below the mountain, an evil older than time itself stirs (Annie’s Theme, by Andrez).

Finally, deep within the temple, a horror unimaginable is fought. The science and technology that takes mankind across galaxies stand against a being holding grudges since before the stars were even born (Wild Soul, by JWM).

In the end, the sun still rises over the mountain, and a new day dawns (Sacred Emotion221, by Soulfinder).

That’s my story that comes with the songs I selected. It’s what I hear when I listen to the set. The middle parts are pretty vague, but I’m very clear on the beginning and the end – especially the end (and in my version, the good guys win – of course).

Telling A Story With Other People’s Music

Stories In Music

I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to pick out music for my mix sets lately, and then the other day I came upon the idea of writing a story to go along with the set.

When talking about DJ:ing it’s often mentioned how the DJ takes the crowd on a journey through sounds an music. Why not view it as a story?

Listening to music almost always fills my head with images and emotions. It shouldn’t be difficult to use that to create a story, or at least a narrative of some sort. The tricky part will be to pick out music that provide the right kind of emotions and images, and that connect with the other tracks of the set.

Fortunately, that’s a really enjoyable task.

I have a few tracks selected already that I want to include, and I have a whole slew of other tracks that I’ve picked out for consideration. I need to cut down the numbers a little or the set will end up being several hours long, and probably rather disjointed as well.

The main track that I’m basing the set on is this:

It’s long and dark, and with a bit of a middle-eastern/oriental feel, and that’s the theme I want to go with for this particular set.

And then I need to figure out a story for it too.

Stories In Music