Friday, 12 October 2012

A Song in My Heart

For this week’s post I’m taking a break from the tale of our Yellowstone holiday in June. I feel like telling you all about something completely different.

This week I have been in the recording studio, laying down the vocal track for The Ballad of Tallimore, the song that appears in my second fantasy novel, King’s Champion. It will be offered as a free download to accompany the book, just as The Wheel Will Turn was for King’s Envoy. The Wheel has proved so popular that I simply had to record a second song, and Tallimore did already feature in King’s Champion.
Why are there songs attached to my books? Well, some of you may already know that before I was a writer, I was a folk singer. I wasn’t anyone you would ever have heard of – my singing was either for myself, or on a very local level such as nearby folk clubs, our village drama group, with a group of friends, or in church. (Yes, I have sung folk-type songs in church – they went down very well!)

Music has been a constant in my life from a very early age, and I taught myself to sing by listening to and singing along with my favourite artists. When I began writing my fantasy series Artesans of Albia, I found that the right music could help with setting the mood I wanted to create, especially as my world of five realms is contained within a medieval setting. Music would have been extremely important to people in medieval times, as it was one of the easiest and cheapest forms of entertainment. It helped workers get through tough days of labor, and tingled the jaded nerves of the wealthy. You didn’t even need an instrument except the one you were born with!

On searching my music collection, I found many pieces that perfectly matched the scenes I was writing. Artists like Enya whose melodic and haunting airs wove themselves through my words. And those included in the Global Journey label, for example Boann’s Clan, Dance of the Water Gods. That album definitely influenced the cadence of my writing. If I wanted to get more contemplative still, I turned to Gregorian and other meditative chants, such as those on the Gift of Music label. Here you can find music to fit many moods and scenes, and I used them frequently to aid my immersion in my world.

On a prior holiday in the States I was fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon. A truly spectacular place on an epic scale – too epic, I’m afraid, for my nerves! I don’t care for great heights and I found the vast vistas just a bit too vast for eyes more used to the limited horizons of England. That’s not to say I didn’t appreciate the beauty of the place, but I would have liked to feel more of an intimate connection to it. Maybe one day I can take a trip down into the canyon and raft along the river. That would be awesome!
The Grand Canyon - I wasn't going any closer to that edge!

But I digress. While at Canyon Village, I bought a CD that caught my fancy. It was an album of Native American music arranged to incorporate the natural sounds of the canyon. Entitled Spirit of the Canyon, it was by a group of people called Ah*Nee*Mah. As soon as the gentle sounds of the very first track – Light From the East – began to play, I was hooked. Here was a track that epitomized and created in sound all the essential qualities of my female lead, Major Sullyan. It could not have fit better had I written it myself. The opening strains reflected her gentler, tenderer qualities and her fascination with the world around her. I could hear the galloping hoofbeats of her warhorse, Drum, and feel the exaltation of her soul every time she used the powers Life had given her. Here too, were the sounds of battle, reflecting her stronger, dutiful side, and also the softer strains of her love for her friends, and for Robin. I doubt if any piece of music has ever fit a character so well.
This, coupled with my continuing connection to and love of music and singing, meant that it was inevitable that songs should appear in my books. The opportunity to actually record and release a song – The Wheel – came about through my brother, who also sings, plays and writes his own music. He and his song-writing partner came up with the melody for The Wheel, using the poem contained in King’s Envoy. We recorded it and even played it live in our local shopping mall on the day of King’s Envoy’s book launch in August 2011. (See video link below.) Since then, it has proved a very popular download on Rhemlda Publishing’s website. It has also been played on various internet radio stations and was played as Single of the Week for three or four weeks running on my local station, Radio Basingstoke.
So now I have recorded song two, The Ballad of Tallimore, and once this is mixed and finalized – probably around mid-November – it will join The Wheel as a free download. And I have decided to write and record seven more songs – one for each of the books in my Artesans of Albia series – plus an overall instrumental theme. These will form an album which will hopefully add to the pleasure of reading my books. Judging by the popularity of The Wheel, and the wonderful reader reviews my first two books are receiving, people are already enjoying them!
I will return to the subject of my Yellowstone holiday in my next post. Until then, happy listening and reading!

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