Wind Age and music

Music actually had a great deal to do with my time writing Wind Age. I collected enough pieces of music, each for a certain part of the story, that I arranged them in a playlist — a private one, though, as some of the music that I listened to for the purposes of setting a certain mood is not the kind of music I would recommend.

When I completed the story, and after I let it sit for about a month, I printed it out and took a highlighter to it. The first time I read through the story I could tell, for any given scene, what I’d been listening to while writing it — not intentionally calling up words or tune, but they were there in my mind all the same. Sometimes words here and there echoed the words of the songs, when the music I was listening to had words. By the fourth and fifth round, I lost that, though if I ask myself what music I was listening to I can still answer, but the story no longer owes quite so much to the music. Now I see it as a complete whole within itself, with parts relating to each other more than to the music that inspired, or evoked the mood for, or influenced details of, individual scenes.

Unfortunately I had a great shortage of period music to listen to. In other parts of England, in the seventh century, you get Gregorian chant, which is lovely and some of it sets a good monastic mood. However, Irish missionaries, being cut off from Rome for so long, wouldn’t have it — it was a pretty new thing at the time — so they brought hymns from Ireland. St Columba (the tune) may date from then, though we’re not sure. St Patrick’s Breastplate is certainly something they would have brought with them. As a matter of fact I listened to it while writing a certain very important part, and some lines from it are themes in a certain other part. But besides the Lorica the playlist is more than half Heather Dale  — that’s where most of the stuff I wouldn’t recommend comes from, though in all fairness quite a bit of her work isn’t half bad, especially her SCA songs — and the rest is almost all classical or church music, things like Albinoni’s Beatitudes or Bach.

One day around noon we were listening to the radio, the classical station by this time because the news was over, and a piece came on that was perfect for the end of Wind Age. I went and found the name and remembered it. The final scene, for which I had vague ideas in mind, had to be as good as I could get it, and a satisfying kind of ending, one that fits the story. I didn’t know the details of that yet, but when the music was on I’d started to see it. When the time came to write the ending, I looked it up, and it didn’t fail me. And no, I’m not putting a link here, not yet — my betas haven’t finished the story.

Within the story itself, music doesn’t have quite as much of a part, considering how little music we know of — doubtless they had quite a lot, but we’ve lost the vast majority. I mention people singing hymns where appropriate, but in most cases I can’t go into a lot of detail with them, except the scene where the Lorica is mentioned.

Note on “music I listen to but don’t recommend”: Sometimes I run across a song that works well for writing a part of a story involving either bad things happening, or bad people doing. . . things. What bad people do. The music helps me get into their minds. So it’s useful, but I also don’t listen to it when other people are around to notice that she’s listening to that. Not that even Mordred’s Lullaby is the worst thing I’ve ever had to hear, but that doesn’t mean that listening to it without good reason is something I want to do. I figure I’m writing about a fairly dark time, that it involves paganism, and presenting the dark as it truly is, is worth that. Thoughts?


About Nolie Alcarturiel

Creative Writing major and Philosophy minor, contemplating a Master's degree in Medieval History. I enjoy practically anything to do with medieval history, including the domestic arts, with an especial emphasis on the Anglo-Saxon Era. In my spare time I read endlessly, do medieval living-history, hold philosophical debates at the drop of a hat, and write books on even slighter provocation.
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12 Responses to Wind Age and music

  1. I Wonder how often music has bean influenced by what the composer was reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Christine says:

    I have been so bad about not commenting! ACK. But I HAVE been reading! I’m just the worst about not getting around to commenting. #Shameful

    But MUSIC. I absolutely HAVE to have music while I’m writing. Though, I usually prefer instrumental songs. Lyrical music distracts me too much. But if I have the perfect instrumental song that fits the mood of the scene I’m writing, it transports me right into my story and I can immerse myself into it. Music REALLY effects my writing, and for the better I think.

    All that to say, I think having the right song for the right scene is important. *nods*


    • noliealcarturiel says:

      I’ve been bad about not commenting too — I didn’t see your anniversary post until Saturday, by which point I was frazzled enough that I couldn’t think of anything halfway original to say. I’m still thinking about what you said about finding your niche, though.

      I discovered the idea of writing to music a couple of years ago, and mostly lyrical music is far too distracting. I was surprised when so much of Wind Age’s music turned out to have words. (Granted, a lot of them are in different languages, but they’re still recognizable as words). Getting into a scene is made a lot faster and easier with the right music.


  3. Katherine says:

    Really interesting thoughts. There’s a rather fine line, I think, between portraying darkness for what it is, honestly and unflinchingly, so that the light can be seen for what it is too; and portraying darkness for its own sake. I guess it (both the writing and the music you choose to listen to) would depend on your motivations.


  4. thegermangolux says:

    You know, I write poetry when I write at all. I’ve found that writing poetry while listening to music is a terrible idea, most especially when it’s lyrical music, because poetry depends on rhythm, and before you know it you’re writing to the beat of the song, and it may or may not match what you’re writing about, so you end up writing it for the song, and not as a poem. Not that writing to a tune is a bad thing (we wouldn’t have many hymns otherwise) but it’s another kind of writing, another breed of poetry, if that makes any sense.

    Not wholly unrelated: I actually read ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ for no other reason than that I’d heard the soundtrack to the movie they made of it, and I was curious what kind of a story such a wonderful soundtrack might go to.


  5. That soundtrack had the same affect on me. Maybe they should put a warning label on it. Like, !!!some side affects may, include: a relaxed state, humming and or reading, calmness!!!


  6. !!!Certains effets secondaires peuvent inclure: un état détendu, le bourdonnement et / ou la lecture, le calme!!!

    !!!nogle side påvirker kan, kan nævnes: en afslappet tilstand, summende og eller læsning, ro.!!!


  7. I was trying to be more realistic. Most warnings I’ve seen are printed in at least three different languages. I chose French because I thought it was common ( an assumption on my part, mind you.) And since I like the Nordic languages, I chose Danish which looks very similar to Norwegian.


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