Scientists have written extensively about the effect of music on the limbic, paralimbic system, the amygdala and hippocampus. There are chemical and neural reasons we get a chill when listening to a certain kind of music. Also well documented is how music in a major key usually evokes a happy feeling while music in a minor key makes one sad.
Good information but what I’m more interested in is how it translates into the writing of a novel, specifically the Kingdom of Uisneach series.
I discovered in the writing of The Prophecy that some music or musical artists created a mood in me that was conducive to writing battle scenes, love scenes and a few otherworldly moments. Music and lyrics inspired me to think about the relationships and the philosophy behind the choices characters made. Some music was instrumental (pardon the pun) in world-building and plotting.
There’s a large component of song and storytelling in the Uisneach books. After all, one of the major characters is a bard. Writing song lyrics and poetry was new to me, so hopefully, by the third book, I’ll be much better at it, but I did have some wonderful help from my muse and a few blood and bone musicians and lyricists.
If I could choose one song that represents the essence of The Prophecy, it would be Adrian von Ziegler’s mythic, “Prophecy” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvtOdAZ9Wng. While writing the wedding scene, I looped this on my device and although some would find it more a dirge; for me, it evoked the culmination of the sacrifice, commitment and perhaps growing love that brought our heroes to the altar and the throne.
Most of the battle scenes were plotted while listening to another favorite musician, Brunuhville, whose haunting Celtic sound transported me to my mythic world. Songs like “Heart of Fire” https://youtu.be/S4BFRYoVtIg called up images of Briana, Sigel and Silas trekking across Uisneach.
Celtic Thunder earned several spots on my playlist with one song, “Voices” nearly appearing in the book. Due to copyright issues, I decided not to use it directly, but it inspired me to write the lyrics to “Crossroads” which made many appearances as a rally song along the journey from Wellsland to Ard Darach.
Briana went through many changes in the writing and re-writing of The Prophecy and The Runes of Evalon but the song that to me remained evocative of her journey is “Ashes” by Adrian von Ziegler. The artwork associated with this is also very Briana-esque https://youtu.be/cLQW_FZsXb0.
What can I say about Silas of Cedarmara? Silas means ‘man of the forest’ and our bard/archer/lover is an emotional force all by himself. His playlist is extensive, mostly with songs by Keith Harkin and James Bay. Two songs stand out for me as evoking Silas. Brian Byrne adapted a James Joyce poem “In the Dark Pinewood” for music and the song is sung by Keith Harkin https://youtu.be/Fli2YYJkNnc. The poem by Joyce oozes bardic beauty. The other song inspired Chapter 27, Bliss. It’s a lesser known song by James Bay called “Incomplete” https://youtu.be/Jcn746NVJjg. If you read the chapter and then listen, you will understand why this was so inspiring.
It took me until the end of the second revision to connect with King Brath. He’s handsome, smart and a just and visionary king, but very different from Silas. Eventually, I discovered the good and loving man underneath the crown. Ray Boudreaux helped me out here with his album First Train. His song, “I Don’t Wanna Stop” gives you the idea of how our lovesick king was feeling https://youtu.be/eeyqJGLPkA4.
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at the musical inspiration for The Prophecy. Please, if you have songs that connect you to the story, please share on my Facebook page. If this was interesting or useful to you and you want me to do it again for The Runes of Evalon, send me a note. If you’re into songwriting and think you could be a voice for the books, by all means, send something along and I’ll consider it!
In the meantime, I’m off to write.
Beannachtai ríocht (Kingdom Blessings)