Soundtrack Month: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [The Complete Recordings]” (Howard Shore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F_OH_hX6MY&list=PL99D96766C5C05441 This probably appears to be an excessively obvious choice, but it’s still worth considering if you really haven’t listened to it yet. The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the longest soundtracks in recent years. In an age when a 100-minute movie is considered long, only Bollywood soundtracks boast a longer average [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Dragon Age: Inquisition” (Trevor Morris)

Fantasy RPG games always run the risk of being too abstract or too dense to be approachable. Yet some well-wrought character development and a knockout soundtrack kept the world of Thedas grounded and more than a little palatable in this third installment. Trevor Morris (yes, his second appearance on this blog this month) managed to [...]

Soundtrack Month: “The Virgin Queen” (Martin Phipps & The Mediaeval Baebes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTP6AcZqLOQ&list=PLF7D7CC073CD90A87 Yes, yes, I already mentioned a song from this album in a previous post - but you've never heard Elizabethan-themed music quite like The Virgin Queen. Underdog Martin Phipps, mostly known for his work in British TV, nailed this album. While little to none of it is a direct transplant from bygone centuries - [...]

Soundtrack Month: “City of Ember” (Andrew Lockington)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C73YbyEXHG0&list=PL9A55C379AD24091E City of Ember is a worthy movie, but unlucky timing made it a borderline flop in theaters. Andre Lockington’s score work for it is solid, if a bit repetitive. Keep in mind that this is a soundtrack for a children’s movie and is bound to feel a bit more exuberant or even a little [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Fringe: Season 1” Michael Giacchino, Chris Tilton, & Chad Seiter)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qazv_HLwN70 Fringe was one of those sci-fi shows that almost - but not quite - wanted to laugh at itself now and then. Armed with speculative science and just enough gunplay to seem like an ordinary mystery thriller at times, it initially grew a legion of fans by being daring and borderline grotesque - and [...]

Soundtrack Month – “Skyrim Atmospheres” (Jeremy Soule)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUfvMZuKU8c How do you easily sum up a fantasy game world as expansive as The Elder Scrolls? You don’t. While the franchise was always known for a staggering (and occasionally unmanageable) amount of objectives, quests, and hidden surprises, Skyrim was especially praised for its landscapes and free-form world. Seven years after its initial release, it [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Vikings: Season 2” (Trevor Morris)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8-G1t5W4yI&list=PLkvtu-zWyS5hsbrNnCBhIHHAzdUPYSLeG&index=1 Vikings is a fascinating, unsettling, and frequently brutal series, but it’s also bar none for strange atmospheres. The music is no exception. Trevor Morris (with more than a little help from some neopagan enthusiasts) mixed beat programming, ambient thoughts, and a variety of unique solo instruments together to get the mysterious cocktail that is [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Serenity” (David Newman)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unrD3b129P8&list=PLKnjrif5pVKdFL_Qi5__SN1nObwby3BRq Serenity was the sobering epilogue to Joss Whedon’s fun but short-lived Firefly TV series. The music is a bit more reflective than the show’s was, but it still has a decently gritty, spunky, and achingly melancholic Old West feeling. This one is perfect for those of you who want structure without excessive formality.  

Soundtrack Month: “The Golden Compass” (Alexandre Desplat)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iuu2CTQo-Lw&list=PLOe4317hNRKIuKbdt42cxmXgXjLicD3hw While The Golden Compass as a movie made some disruptive and dividing waves among viewers, the soundtrack is delightful. I don’t always understand Alexandre Desplat’s music (especially when  the moments in this score when an army of pianists play through a section at the same time – talk about organized chaos!), but the balance [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Nicholas Hooper)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Nk5-Pszno&list=PL37B12F0DC4E243EC Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has a strange place in both the film  franchise and book series. Gone is the startled, biting darkness that Order of the Phoenix so masterfully covered. Harry and those around him are both grimly resolved to fight chaos and irrecoverably entrenched in teen angst. The movie’s overall vibe [...]

Jeremy Soule – “Harvest Dawn”

For writers, it's entirely possible to have plenty of ideas but not enough focus to put them into words - because you just can't relax long enough to sit still sometimes. Considering how much panic and combat can be involved in an Elder Scrolls game, their soundtracks don't get much more contemplative than this one. [...]

Meditation for Novelists: On Being In the Moment

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RssActT4foA The English language is baffling, even to native speakers like yours truly. One phrase in particular has harassed me lately, so here’s the score. Happily or unhappily, most of us have heard the phrase “being mindful.” Sometimes, it’s used in close proximity to “being in the moment.” But I take severe issue with this [...]

Ashot Danielyan – “Warm Night in Cold Moscow”

If you're craving splendid pedal effects and tranquil chords, look no further. The style is almost (but not quite) New Age, except that the texture enjoys shifting around in a more free-form way and allows a little room for mystery and shadows. Songs like this charmer make me especially happy that ambient piano is still [...]

Raney Shockne – “Enchanter” (from Dragon Age: Inquisition)

The tavern songs for Dragon Age: Inquisition made enough of a splash upon the game's release that EA temporarily posted downloadable sheet music for them - a rare act indeed, since even the most famous themes from game music are seldom seen in sheet music form. While the vocal versions are palatable, I'm always interested [...]