Writing to Music (Chronicles of Narnia Soundtrack)

chronicles of narnia

I’m in the middle of writing “Project Light.”  Literally, I’m right in the middle of the project.  It will have 5 total sections and I’ve completed two of them and I’m at the midway point of section 3.  To say that it has been an long hard journey would be an understatement.  For the reasons why, please check the blog entry before this one and it should give you some context for why this story has 1) been floating in my mind for a while and 2) why it isn’t nearly as easy to write as something like Here Be Monsters.

To make the journey easier, I’ve gone back to doing something that I’ve done for a while, but discarded–picking a movie soundtrack and writing the story based on the “feeling” that I get from the soundtrack.  When I write, I try to pick (sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously) the soundtrack that I own (& I buy quite a few per year) that best matches the “tone” of the story.  Now, I should probably clarify: when I say soundtrack, that refers really to the film’s score and any additional tracks that may come with it.  Actually, songs/soundtracks (music with words) aren’t really that helpful to me as the words of the songs generally get into my way when I’m actually composing/drafting my work.  I do find some songs useful sometimes as they establish the “tone” that I’m going for (light, dark, dramatic, playful), but when I’m actually writing the work, I only want to accompanying music so that I can find the right words to illustrate the “picture” that I see in my mind’s eye.

Setting the Tone

I thought for this entry I would choose 2-3 of my favorite tracks and link to them.  First, I think it is important to show what purpose they music plays in my writing and second, I’d like to show how picking the right music can help you by putting you in the right frame of my mind.

WARNING: These are YouTube videos and (usually) begin to play right away.  While they ARE appropriate (no bad language), if you have the volume all the way up or you are at work or school and could get into trouble for watching/listening to videos, you may want to turn the volume down or wait until you get home to listen to these tracks.

Winter Light by Tim Finn

chronicles of narnia

This is the first track that I start up and it establishes the “mood” of “Project Light.”  There is a melancholy timbre to the track that I think works great for the project.  The words, however, are ultimately hopeful.  That is what I hope to portray in the story–a sort of melancholy hopefulness that says, “hey, everything is pretty awful right now, but keep striving and things could be better.”

The Battle by Harry Gregson-Williams

chronicles of narnia

This is my go to piece when I’m writing a battle scene or exciting action scene.  I like the slow build-up to the thunderous music, but right in the middle after the choir finishes, there is a section that is just genius.  The music builds a second time and there is a moment when all the orchestra and choir drops out and you are left with just percussion and horns that really inspires me and pushes me deeper into the story.  Every time I hear that section, its like the picture in my mind crystalizes and I can see it perfectly and it’s just up to my fingers to find the correct words to get it down into the computer before it fades away.  (I’m listening to it as I type these very words and even after hearing the music all week, this song still gives me chills.)

Can’t Take It In by Imogen Heap

chronicles of narnia

This one I use because I simply like the music.  It has a hopefulness, that unlike Winter Light, is completely free on melancholy.  This one reminds me of the wonder of writing, or creating, of bringing something that existed only in my mind to fruition.  It also helps to remind me of the wonder of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  There is a graceful expression of the joy the genre brings to me when it is done correctly.

There are many other fine tracks on the soundtrack.  If you are interested, you can find the whole soundtrack in many places.  I just wanted to illustrate a tool that I’m using to help me finish “Project Light.”  I hope you enjoy the songs!