Fantasy Music – What Inspires You?

Cover of "Legend: Original Motion Picture...
Legend: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Music has the power to conjure emotions and spark the imagination.  When I’m at my writing desk, nothing makes the work go smoother than listening to just the right music.

Over the years I’ve put together a collection of fantasy music which I use for inspiration.  Some of these albums are derived from my favorite fantasy movies.  Others I discovered while listening to Radio Rivendell, the online fantasy music station.  All of them have one thing in common: when played, they transport my mind to a different place –  a realm of myth and magic.

Here are seven of the albums which I turn to the most when seeking inspiration:

The Lord of the Rings Symphony by Howard Shore

Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is a classic.  Believe it or not, his reworked The Lord of the Rings Symphony is actually better.  Shore selected musical pieces from all three films, and restructured them into a six movement symphony for orchestra and chorus.  The result is a smooth, immersive musical journey through Middle Earth.


Conan the Barbarian by Basil Poledouris

This is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time.  Basil Poledouris (with help from his daughter) created an epic score which is reminiscent of of both Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov.  At times it captures the brutality of Conan’s quest to solve the riddle of steel.  But in many tracks, such as the enchanting “Theology / Civilization,” it emanates a gentle beauty.


The 13 Warrior by Jerry Goldsmith

While the film for which this score was composed is far from perfect, Jerry Goldsmith’s music elevates it to a whole new level of awesome.  This album is simultaneously adventurous and bold, with a mix of Celtic and middle-eastern influences.


World of Warcraft: Taverns of Azeroth by David Arkenstone

I have never played World of Warcraft, although I understand that this music was written for the taverns that populate the game.  Composer David Arkenstone has a talent for evoking feelings of mystery, magic and darkness.


Legend by Tangerine Dream

The original score for Legend was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and has more of a fairy tale air to it.  This second version, by Tangerine Dream, is decidedly darker and more evocative.  I find this album to be a great source of inspiration when I’m working on particularly grim scenes.


The Last of the Mohicans by Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman

Although the film takes place in colonial America, this music sounds far more Celtic.  Trevor Jones, who also scored Excalibur, used Scottish musical legend Dougie MacLean’s “The Gael” as the basis for the film’s theme, and it is haunting.  When listening to this album I find myself being called back to an ancient, forgotten world.


Children of Dune by Brian Tyler

This score comes from a forgettable Syfy original miniseries based on Frank Herbert’s book.  While the miniseries was less than stellar, the score is amazing.  I especially love the main theme, “Dune Messiah.”


Your Favorites?

These are several of my favorite albums to listen to when writing a book.  They always provide me with inspiration when I most need it.  What fantasy music do you find inspiring?