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?

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David
4 years ago

I find that music inspired by authentic medieval sounds is incredible for creating the atmosphere. Eg the music of Ensemble Unicorn (find them on YouTube!). You may also like the reimagined medieval songs I have written using authentic Medieval English lyrics: http://www.davidyardley.com.au. Thanks for the interesting article!

arbiter117
arbiter117
9 years ago

I bought all the Halo soundtracks and they are all great, in fact I’m listening to it right now! Other video game soundtracks I like are Starcraft 2 and CnC4.

I also enjoy Hans Zimmer, he did Inception and other soundtracks. And of course LOTR! 😀

Youtube  “Immediate Music”, it is also fantastic

Craig Henderson
9 years ago

I listen to Angels and Airwaves. Pink Floyd is another good one. I like the space sounding music to write with. They just make me think of a long, epic journey through worlds.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Craig Henderson
9 years ago

Pink Floyd is perfect mood music.  I’ve never tried writing while listening to Floyd, but I could see it working.

Blu
Blu
9 years ago

Like mademoiselle Macklin, I too enjoy swing and jazz whenever I’m working on something or just relaxing in front of the computer.  Anything to ease the mind and get in the right mood to complete the work.  There is one website I have found that is really good at mix-matching musical genres together, and playing them back without having to monitor anything.  Pandora.com offers a unique service where you plug in different options you want to hear, and like a radio station it will play song after song without having to push any buttons.  I can request the Evanescence channel, Lord of the Rings channel, and the Johann Sebastian Bach channel, hit shuffle, and sit back and listen while it does all the work.  There are, of course, a few downfalls like advertisements, but I think it is worth it for the price of free 😀

Jusqu’a je reviens
~Blu

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Blu
9 years ago

Hey Blu!

I agree about Pandora.  It’s simply amazing.  I love my Queen and David Bowie channels.  🙂

Sarah Macklin
Sarah Macklin
9 years ago

I usually listen to Swing, Big Band, and Jazz to get me in the mood. I have a mix that I put together that does the trick every time. I can’t listen to any of the “fantasy music.” I start daydreaming instead of writing.

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  Sarah Macklin
9 years ago

I write best when I’m daydreaming.  🙂

leogodin217
leogodin217
9 years ago

I listen to Adrian Von Ziegler. He puts all his music on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AdrianvonZiegler.

Also Hexperos is good while writing: http://www.youtube.com/user/HexperosOfficial

Lastly, Faun is a great fantasy band. Probably not good for writing, but fun to listen to other times.http://www.faune.de/web/index-en.html  They play renaissance folk music using real instruments. 

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  leogodin217
9 years ago

Thanks for the recommendations.  I checked out Adrian’s stuff, and it’s very atmospheric.

WeilderOfTheMonkeyBlade
WeilderOfTheMonkeyBlade
8 years ago

I like three steps from hell- great sounds
Also, bands that never fail to get me in a good writing mood- Ensiferum, Eluveitie, Equilibrium, Blind guardian- the power of these songs ( which are about fantasy and Vikings 🙂 ) is unbelievable (be warned I am a fan of loud metal- if you like other genres you will likely real away crying).
Also Caladan Brood, Melodic Death metal all about the Malazan series 🙂 – epic soundscapes. Most people wont like this stuff, but I wanted to give my opinion 🙂

Antonio del Drago
Reply to  WeilderOfTheMonkeyBlade
8 years ago

Your opinion is very welcome!

Cf welburn
Reply to  WeilderOfTheMonkeyBlade
4 years ago

Caladan brood is great. In a similar vein to summoning who are inspired by tolkien’s work. Anything black metal, atmospheric can transport me. From aggaloch to drudkh to moonsorrow to winterfyllth…

Secret Moon Princess
Secret Moon Princess
9 years ago

I am 14 years old, so when I try to find music that inspires me, I usually try to find something that captivates me at the beginning. I listen to Loreena McKennitt, Secret Garden, and a lot of lullabies so as the melody or the song is going on I picture a story line to it, or if there is already a story line to it, I choose to sharpen my visualizing skills by imagining whats going on. I know there really aren’t that many people my age who enjoy reading and writing, but I think they just haven’t found something to inspire them yet. 

Dolphinkoala2010
Dolphinkoala2010
9 years ago

I recently heard this album:
 
http://titans-of-old.bandcamp.com/
 
It’s a really interesting concept fantasy / mythical album. The guy has some really nice lyrics and compositions

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