Vox: Inspiration Through Music

Good evening folks!

Well, I realized today that it’s impossible for me to choose only 5 songs to talk about for Vox. My first book is incredibly special in that I listened to so many varied songs and artists while composing each chapter. Allot of music isn’t even listed on the website under the soundtrack list. What I’d like to do is choose the songs that had the most meaning to me (which will definitely be more than just 5) and explain what it was about them that inspired certain things in the book. So relax back in your computer chair, get a warm mug of tea, and venture forth into Inspiration Through Music!

#1. The Beginning Is The End is the Beginning: Smashing Pumpkins – The song that begins and ends the story. I first heard this song used in the brilliant trailer for the movie ‘Watchmen’ (one of my favorite films) and immediately thought of Torrent. Torrent is the dark and conflicted main character of Vox. He’s caused more harm than good in his recent past. But he can’t remember all of the terrible things he’s done. He’s hoping to start a new beginning yet he doesn’t feel entirely whole. There is something missing that he keeps searching for but can’t find. All the while, he observes the world’s pain and knows that he must stop it. Definitely one of Torrent’s main themes through out the book is his wish to assist others despite his own selfishness.

#2. Il Dolce Suono from ‘Lucia Di Lammermoor’: Donizetti – Without a doubt, this song was the birth of the character, Eileen. Known as the Mad Scene in the opera ‘Lucia Di Lammermoor’, the title character Lucia has just stabbed and killed her bridegroom, Arturo. She has gone insane and proceeds to sing “Il Dolce Suono”, a song about being married to her true love, Edgardo. The idea of having a “mad” opera soprano was too good to ignore. The song works for Eileen because she imagines living with her husband. But this can’t happen because he’s dead. Yet, she continues to believe that he’s still near her and that she can hear his voice. I first heard this in the movie “The Fifth Element” performed by Inva Mula Tchako. I still prefer that version of it, though I did quite enjoy Natalie Dessay’s performance. I saw the MET’s 2011 performance of ‘Lucia Di Lammermoor’ live and was even more moved seeing Dessay in character singing the music. You can view that performance here.

#3. Systems/Layers: Rachel’s – I mentioned Rachel’s very briefly yesterday. This is an amazing band. I discovered them on Pandora and they have quickly become one of my favorite groups. Each song by them is quiet and beautiful, diverse and rich. Systems/Layers is a song that I listened to when I imagined Eileen returning to her home in Shropshire after being away for 7 months. There is a desperation in this song the way the way that the tempo becomes faster through the song. It begins with low piano notes as she starts toward the house almost dreading going inside. Then the piano speeds up as the memories come to her. Rachel’s also inspired a scene in Aequitas with their song, “An Evening of Long Goodbyes.” I don’t often do this sort of thing but please, please, please go to their website and check them out.

#4. Primavera: Ludovico Einaudi – Yes. I named the opera house in Vox after this song. This song is also the one that plays through the scene in chapter 9. This is a gorgeous song, which starts off with delicate piano music and quickly leaps into some adventurous measures about 2 minutes in. You can feel yourself caught up in the action as Torrent comes to Eileen’s rescue and faces off against the infamous Lacrymosa Killer. This song has so many layers and so many beautiful notes that I fell in love with it the first time I heard it (and bought the CD soon after as well).

#5. Violet Hill: Coldplay – Violet Hill is one of those songs that I randomly listened to and for some reason or another, it spoke to me during one particular scene. The guitar riff at 2:18 was a direct inspiration for the hospital scene where Reid saves Sean. The lyrics have almost nothing to do with the scene (except for possibly Sean’s love for his girlfriend). This was make or break it chapter for Reid’s character. I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to like him. But hearing this song and seeing him stalk up that hospital corridor, gun drawn was the ultimate win. Coldplay’s ‘Cemeteries of London’ inspires another scene early on in the book.

#6. Blood: Editors – Editors are one of my more inspirational bands that I go to when working on The Monstrum Chronicles. I’ve deemed them as music for Reid, because all of the songs fit his character so well. ‘Blood’ is essentially the background music in chapter 14. It’s more than that though. It’s the difference between Sean and Reid and it explodes in this chapter. It sends Sean hurtling further into a world he doesn’t fully understand. He’s forced to face off against creatures faster and stronger than him and do it alone. It’s a terrifying experience and it’s one he’s not fully prepared for. There are many songs by Editors that have inspired scenes in later books. “Munich” is a major song for Reid’s character in Aequitas.

#7. Smile?: The Crystal Method – Allot of people generalize action music. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. There are several action pieces in Vox. Two of them were inspired by songs from The Crystal Method, who is one of my favorite electronica/techno bands. There are certain places in the song where I see certain things happening and that personalizes this song to those chapters. Smile? actually takes place during chapter 21 in the mall in Ireland. There is a point at 3:40 where I can still see Torrent as he grabs one of his cylinders and drinks it, which is a turning point in the scene. The tempo speeds back up after the slowed-down section as he regains his focus and energy and launches back into the fight. “Cherry Twist” inspired an earlier scene in Vox and “Double Down Under” inspires part of an action scene in Aequitas.

#8. Control: Traci Lords – Anyone who has seen the 1995 film version of “Mortal Kombat” will recognize this song immediately as Reptile’s Theme. For me, there was no other song in my mind when I wrote the one of the most difficult scenes in my book: the Chimera battle. It took me two days to research the predatorial behavior of lions and snakes and how they might attack a human. I listened to this song repetitively as I wrote the scene. For me, there is always something menacing about how the song begins. It’s like the worst thing you could possibly expect to happen has now happened and you have seconds to decide what to do. There is a definite urgency in the song and that fueled my writing.

#9. Map of the Problematique: Muse – This has and will always be a Torrent song. This was his song when I was writing the prequel to Vox (and now book 3), Memento Mori. That was back in 2008. This song was one of the birth songs of this character. When I think of Torrent, the song is saying that he wants desperately to hold on to what he was and who he was and wants to get back to the way things were. But whatever he tries ruins things. “I can’t get it right” is one of the most powerful and tragic lines of this song. Because he won’t let go of the past, he’s forever doomed to loneliness. This song is one of my top ten personal favorites.

#10. 160 BPM from “Angels and Demons” The Original Score by Hans Zimmer – As you may remember, I mentioned the song “Fire,” also from the Angels and Demons Soundtrack as one of my inspirations for Aequitas. This soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal. The movie is one of my favorites and as is the book, which I devoured when I read it several years ago in 2006. What really speaks to me in both of these pieces are the choral voices in the background. Without those, these tracks wouldn’t feel as dramatic or as powerful. The composition always puts me on the edge of my seat when I’m writing. The great things about these tracks is that I never get tired of them and they fit so many different scenes in the Monstrum Chronicles. This particular scene took place in chapter 32. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know how much is going on in this chapter. “160 BPM” was the only song that fit for me behind all of the action.

On next weeks “Inspiration Through Music” post, I’ll be discussing the controversial song “Hurricane” by 30 Seconds from Mars and how it inspired my writing.

In other news: I’ve hit 200 followers on Twitter. Very sweet, indeed. I also have been awarded a “Versatile Blogger Award” by one of my readers, Kate Policani. I’m grateful to be considered versatile and not just random, ha ha. You can find Kate’s blog here: http://katepolicani.com/. Thursday on my next Cooking Adventures blog post, I’ll be sticking with a bit simpler of a recipe this week. Buckwheat Pancakes are up next!

Until then,




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