novel soundtracking

I’m not sleepy yet, so you get another post about writing.

Or in this case, soundtracking.

I’ve had the habit of listening to specific pieces of music while writing since I got seriously going on what turned out to be my first complete novel. But it’s generally been a small number of songs associated with each book: usually about two. (And by “associated” I mean “I listened to them most of the time while writing the book,” which does, yes, lead to a terrifying number of repetitions.)

But since coming to grad school and getting involved in the local gaming community, I’ve picked up a local habit of making soundtracks for games: character soundtracks for the ones I’m playing in, game soundtracks for the one I ran. And I speculated, some time after I started doing so, that one day I might find myself making a proper novel soundtrack.

That day is today. Or rather, that novel is this novel; I knew months ago that Midnight Never Come would be the pioneer in this field.

The reason is obvious: as I’ve mentioned before, the novel grew out of one segment of that game I ran. I made quite a few soundtracks for Memento, and each segment basically ended up getting ten songs, which meant I had ten songs already associated with the seeds of this story. Not all of them are applicable, of course, since the novel is not identical to the game, but it gave me enough of a starting block that it felt quite natural to create a proper soundtrack for this book.

It’s an in-progress thing; I haven’t chosen songs for certain characters yet (like oh, say, Deven), and a lot of the “event” tracks are also undecided. But I thought I’d provide a sampler, so that anybody who recognizes these songs will have an idea of the mood of the book. (Mostly you need a good film score collection for this one; I’m not the sort of writer who can use a lot of modern pop music to inspire a sixteenth-century novel.)

  • Midnight Never Come — “Elizabeth – Overture,” David Hirschfelder, Elizabeth
  • Queen of the Onyx Court — “Corso and the Girl,” Wojciech Kilar, The Ninth Gate
  • The Virgin Queen — “Go Bid the Soldiers Shoot,” Patrick Doyle, Hamlet
  • Lady Lune — “Ophelia (Version 1),” Ennio Morricone, Hamlet
  • Tiresias — “Poison Milk,” Joe LoDuca, Brotherhood of the Wolf
  • Walsingham — “Give Me Up the Truth,” Patrick Doyle, Hamlet
  • The Goodemeade Sisters — “Concerning Hobbits,” Howard Shore, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Tower of London — “The Sheriff and His Witch,” Michael Kamen, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves*
  • The Onyx Hall — “All Hallow’s Eve Ball,” Alan Silvestri, Van Helsing*
  • Royal Palaces — “Coronation Banquet,” David Hirschfelder, Elizabeth*

(*Songs marked with an asterisk have been edited so I’m only using a selection of the whole. Usually because the other part of the song is radically different in tone.)

The actual ordering of things is undecided. Also, there are other songs I know I’ll be using, but I have to decide how to title them so they won’t constitute spoilers. (The Memento soundtracks were made after the game segments in question.) But this does give a general idea. I also have playlists, from which the soundtrack songs are chosen: one for the Elizabethan Court, one for the Onyx Court, etc. It means I’m not listening to the same two songs ad infinitum, which is probably good for what’s left of my sanity. I may or may not post the entirety of those playlists on my website when all is said and done; I certainly will post the contents of the soundtrack.

Or rather, the titles; I’d love to throw up mp3s and let you all listen along, but I suspect the RIAA would take exception to that.

Okay, sleepy now. Bedtime.

0 Responses to “novel soundtracking”

  1. juliannef

    I’ve been doing the same thing: collecting songs that I listen to while writing. It’s very helpful to get one in the right mood. I love the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, but I wasn’t aware of some of the others you mentioned. I listened to some itunes sample from the Elizabeth soundtrack and really liked them I couldn’t find your Hamlet selections, though. Which Hamlet are you referring to?


    • Marie Brennan

      The Patrick Doyle tracks are from the Kenneth Branagh Hamlet; the Ennio Morricone one is from Mel Gibson’s.

      I’m a big film score geek, though I do have two friends who surpass even my geekery. (One of them studied music in college with the ambition of becoming a score composer, so he’s got an edge I’ll never surpass.)

  2. tooth_and_claw

    I wouldn’t want to risk it for your book’s sake, but popping up MP3’s into posts is something I’ve noticed becoming far more common on my flist as of late.

    • Marie Brennan

      Some friends of mine used to do it in the early days of blogging, but the risk, I imagine, runs directly proportional to how high-profile the poster is, and I of course aspire for my profile to be as high as I can get it.

  3. sartorias

    How do you edit songs? I’ve several I’d like to use (I make play tracks for everything, always have, ever since I was thirteen and when Dad was gone, snuck my music onto the stereo and then crouched down next to it to stand up and lift the needle over and over and over and over to replay a track I needed) but the first half is great and the last half sucks, or whatever. No idea how to cut off the last half.

    • Marie Brennan

      I use a program called Nero, which I’ve also used to make labels and case inserts when I burn soundtracks to CD. It’s got a “wave editor” you can use to crop things, adjust volume, fade in and out, etc. Nero’s kind of pricy, but I imagine you could find freeware or at least cheaper programs that would give you basic sound-editing capabilities.

      • sartorias

        Ah, thanks. (I’d hoped there was some simple thing that stupid-brain here had overlooked, but I see there isn’t.)

        • Marie Brennan

          Nope. You need software that can do it, and so far as I know, neither iTunes nor WinAmp can (though maybe WinAmp has passed through its period of suckage, gone back to being awesome, and added that feature).

        • tiamat360

          There is a program called Audacity which is a) free, and b) allows you to edit songs in any of a million of ways, including of course cropping bits of the song. I think you can find it with Google.

          • sartorias

            Thanks! I already have that–for making podcasts (haven’t had time to experiment yet) how embarrassing!

            Well, it’s been four years, and I still don’t know how to work the TV other than turning it off and on.

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