To close out a great week of fun, Will has kindly written up a little something about music and fantasy. As it really needs no introduction other than that, I’ll step out of the way and let him have at it. Take it away, Will!
“And I want to be a paperback writer!”
Hands up if you remember that Beatles song? Thought you might. Those of you reading Kay’s blog (as I do, being one of her subscribers) have possibly looked at some of the fantasy work I put out. If you have, you will know that music runs through the books as a solid theme. As the books are loosely based on the adventures of a dwarf rhythm and blues band, that’s inevitable, really. But stop for a moment and think about the link between music and fantasy.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the two genres enjoy such close links. Both can call to our deepest emotions and have the power to stir us, make us cry or laugh, and fall in love with characters and musicians. And yes, both genres are wide enough to encompass many facets, from the shallow pool of the frivolous (where I seem to swim) to the deeper waters of the majestic themes inhabited by better writers; and of course music has the same depth: pieces capable of stirring deep emotions and other songs which are simply ephemeral fluff.
Fantasy has been a rich vein of material for musicians as well. Classical pieces (Orpheus in the Underworld, The Ring Cycle, The Magic Flute, The Nutcracker Suite as some examples) have drawn heavily on fantasy for their inspiration. Heavy rock has trod a similar pathway – from the mighty Led Zeppelin referencing Lord of the Rings to Rick Wakeman basing a whole album on Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth. Personally, I can see a parallel between “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots,” but possibly that’s just me.
Epic fantasy has always loved its songs and verse; Tolkien wrote some memorable pieces. After all, the earliest such stories were written in verse and meant to be chanted by a singer. Can you imagine how it might have felt to be sat, in the morning of the world, around a fire in a dark wilderness: the sky lit with a million stars, a storm perhaps rumbling in the hills behind you, and various wild animal noises in the background: and there before you a bard is chanting the story of Beowulf and the monster? How real might that tale have felt? Or maybe to be sat around a table with your shipmates, the wine flowing freely in the warm evening as a story master related the Voyage of Argo to you all?
Music and fantasy: inextricably linked from the very start. I will confess, it is pleasing to my vanity to think that I write in the traditions of the earliest masters of fantasy. Even though their poetic prose is deathless, and mine, well, isn’t.
Thank you, Will, for that wonderful post. For my part, music and writing always have been and always will be inextricably linked (to borrow a phrase). And thanks also to everyone who stopped by to help celebrate the release of Will’s fourth book! I’m honored to have been part of the party.
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