Sunday, February 9, 2014

[Design Diary] Tuned in

I am a big fan of music, as some might already know. I listen to it on the slow days at work, listen to it on the way home… and I use it in the background when I write.
It started back in high school, with my D&D group. Oh, I used tracks from Conan, and Born on the Fourth of July, even some classical Holst (The Planets, of course), but tried to stay away from the “known” stuff. No Star Wars, no Superman. Much, much too well known.
I’ve continued finding good stuff, looping it as I write. The playlist for my as-yet-Untitled story running on the Other Blog, is probably the longest one in my iTunes, right now... which is only fitting, since it beats out the Chronicle for my longest-running writing project.
Two Steps from Hell was there to provide me with a theme suitable for Jack’s desperation when his friend goes missing — not only physically, but also from the memories of everyone around him. And they also had the perfect tune for Beth’s fiery return on All Hallow’s eve. Her personal theme, meticulous, a bit driven, yet melancholy at the same time, was borrowed from Dennou Coil soundtrack. It took forever to find Jack’s theme… but when I did, it sounded just like his art.
A good theme keys me in on what makes each character tick. When too much story gets in the way, when I’m stuck for a line of dialogue, or a course of action, after I’ve back-spaced over something for the fourth or fifth time, I’ll cue up a theme, and many times, that helps me to refocus, and the stalled scene carries (me) on. 
Each of the characters in the Chronicle have their own themes, some have several. 
I borrowed Varis’ theme from the Army, though I think it a tad too grandiose for the rather humble swordsman.
Gilliam, appropriately enough, borrows his theme from the BBC’s Robin Hood.
Ana, too, gets her theme from the BBC’s Robin Hood, but borrows from the Nightwatchman.
Last but not least, Thorn’s theme is taken from The DaVinci Code’s Chevaliers de Sangreal theme. It starts off slow and somewhat mysterious, but gains power and momentum as it goes…. Much like the many druidic orders of Thorn’s Mystara.
Silva of course has a theme in Yoko Kanno’s “Incomplete Love Story.” Her twin Leansethar is embodied in Two Steps from Hell’s “Blizzard.”
The Handmaidens as a whole have a theme, the Opening from Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which [SPOILERS] just… sounds like falling through time. The Love Theme perfectly captures Katarin’s character. I’ve had to look to various anime soundtracks to find themes for Jasna and Brynne.
There is so much great music and so many great composers out there… Do you use music to keep yourself inspired? Tell me about it in the comments below.

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