Music plays a huge part in my writing, especially to set the ambiance. There’s no better way for me to stop thinking about other responsibilities and get in the mindset to write. Music wipes my brain clean of everything else and lets me focus on creativity. There are a few specific songs that helped me write Anatomy of a Darkened Heart when I had a hard time concentrating. That’s the most frustrating thing for me, by the way – when I want to write but I’m too distracted. Or if I’m in the wrong mood for the piece I’m working on.
Let me introduce you to some music that helped put the “dark” in “darkened heart”. It’s all from the CD (yes, I own some CDs!) Funeral Music, which isn’t a spoiler. It’s just sufficiently tragic to suit the ambiance I needed in order to write AoDH properly.
- Mozart’s Masonic funeral music
- I consider this as close to a theme song as it gets. I listened to this song quite a lot during the writing of AoDH, and although it has a little bit too light of a feel in some sections, much of it tells of a complicated setting with ups and downs that suit the story. The smoothness of its transitions also struck me as appropriate for AoDH.
- Mozart’s Requiem: Introït
- Innocence and dynamism all at once. There’s a lot of delicate beauty and brooding to this piece that sounds a lot like internal turmoil. The uncertain ending makes it especially relevant.
- Mozart’s Requiem: Lacrimosa
- Again delicate, but in a ready-to-break kind of way, like watching the beauty of light glinting off falling glass. Doom is imminent and yet it’s too lovely too look away.
- Bach’s Concerto for 2 violins in D minor: II Largo
- This sounds exactly like proper Victorian etiquette to me, but I also love the idea of something wicked hidden underneath the layers. Everything is so beautiful and “stiff” in that Victorian way (in my mind), and seeing that shell of good manners, the layer that everyone on the outside might see, inspired the ideas behind Abigail’s and Elizabeth’s minimal and manipulative attempts to fit into society for their purposes. I picture a beautiful Victorian house and steadily rotting insides that no one realizes is quite as bad as it is.
- Grieg’s Peer Gynt: The death of Åse
- The sheer building sadness and drama of this music heavily drove the middle of the book as well as Abigail’s relationship with her mother in general. Actually, Abigail’s whole existence could really be defined by this theme.
- Bach’s St. John Passion: “Ruht wohl”
- Another solidly stiff piece that I feel represents the Victorian period well. I see a lot of outwardly hidden emotions when I listen to this one, a very controlled piece of music, much like most of the characters in AoDH.
- Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater: Stabat Mater Dolorosa
- There’s tradition in some of the chords and refrains in this piece. Also the feel of tragedy blends with voices and instruments that are almost indistinguishable at times. So many things can blend together if we’re not careful… Another theme in AoDH.
The second book in the Dark Victoriana Collection, Locke and Keye, is inspired by some of the same music, but for different reasons, and definitely not all the same music. There are additional pieces I’m listening to from this album that are more appropriate, and my vision changes completely for the pieces that do match AoDH’s inspiration.
Finding the perfect music to accompany my writing can be frustrating at first, but in the end it’s extremely satisfying to play something that slips me right into the necessary mood. It’s a good thing I don’t easily get sick of playing the same songs repeatedly!