Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Music to weave by

There's a certain kind of music that I can story-weave to, the kind I like to play on long road trips in the car, or simply daydream to. The kind of music that could play as a soundtrack to the stories that have captured my heart and passion and that I most want to tell. It most often has a Celtic or folk flavor to it, or perhaps an African or international sound. There should be a tin whistle or a fiddle, or a bodhran or African drums. There might be Gaelic sung, or a haunting voice singing English with a marked Scots or Irish lilt.

This is one of those songs, by a new (for me) find, violinist Vanessa Mae singing and playing the Scottish song I'm A-Doun for Lack O' Johnnie. With its blend of wistful, soaring violin and driving drum rhythm, for me it was love at first listen.

I've moved this video down to the bottom of the blog. It wasn't playing nicely with the new site design. If you haven't seen it, scroll down.

I'm a doun, doun, doun
I'm a doun for lack o'Johnnie
Gin Johnnie kent I was nae weel
I'm sure he would come to me
But o gin he's forsaken me
Och hone what will come o' me

The lyrics are in Scots, by the way. I love that dialect and tend to use it in my writing whenever possible.

Do you have a favorite type of music for story weaving? Or for reading to, or that you simply find inspiring? Leave a link to a video, or mention the genre, title or artist in a post.


  1. I love watching the violinist in this video! She looks like she could be a rockstar. (I'm a violinist too.)

    I like to write to music that has a similar tone to the book I'm working on. (It'd be impossible to describe how I KNOW the tones are similar, but you know what I mean.)

    My WIP has a Southern/Country music flair, so my playlist is full of Taylor Swift ("Fearless" and "Breathe") and Patsy Cline ("Walkin' After Midnight" and "Crazy"), as well as a Grand Ole Opry Gospel collection with Charlie Daniels, Sara Evans, and Brad Paisley among others. I find it extremely funny that this is my writing soundtrack, because I wouldn't be caught dead listening to such music in real life.

    Do you notice that your writing soundtrack varies for different stories?

  2. That is lovely! Music that inspires my writing or that I can write by is only instrumental since I get distracted by the vocals.

    Canon in D always, always inspires me especially with the harp and violin -

    And the sound of a harp - here's a favorite:

  3. Some classical works for me. I haven't listened to this video yet, but I want to. I was recently introduced to Celtic guitar and realllllllly liked it.

  4. Gracie, I wish I could write to music, but I can't. I need absolute silence, and even then I wear earplugs. Airplanes, traffic outside, dogs barking. I too easily jarred out of concentration! But I can sit in a car for hours and story-weave to the right kind of music. Yes, the songs do differ from story to story to some degree. For Kindred, I listened to a lot of slave spirituals and early Colonial music, and Celtic stuff. For Willa, it's more of a Last of the Mohicans soundtrack sort of thing, and still some Celtic stuff too.

  5. Warren, this video is a bit strange (odd choice to use the fighters, I would rather have had a better look at the musicians). Sometimes I just listen and don't bother watching.

    Do you have a particular guitarist that you like? Celtic guitar sounds like something I'd like as well.

  6. Carla, Oh, harp and violin. That IS beautiful. Thanks for sharing those links. It reminds me of a song I liked to listen to while I was working on Kindred, played on the glass harmonica. It's "Anna" from the CD "Music of the American Colonies" by Anne Enslow and Ridley Enslow

  7. Gracie, I meant to say that a couple more violinist I enjoy watching (as well as listening!) are Fionnuala Sherry of Secret Garden, and Lucia Micarelli, who toured with Josh Groban in 2007.

  8. Gracie, One more PS: You can see Lucia Micarelli in the Josh Groban "Awake" video down at the bottom of this blog. She seems always to perform barefoot!

  9. Music is really important to my artin' process. There are certain CDs that I go back to again and again...they remind me of driving through the winding ozark hills, or being on a farm. Things I love.

    This is a great song from Gillian Welch (a fav of mine)

    Then there's Neko Case...I heart her so much. She's my favorite singer. I think they call her 'alternative country'....lots of gritty old-time guitar and piano and her lyrics are so interesting. She does a few old hymnals too that really get you dancing. Like this one:

    I love old timey tunes, big surprise ;)

  10. Heather, I heard music like Gillian's a lot growing up because I lived in the same house as my grandparents. My grandfather played music like hers... ever louder as his hearing went! LOL.

    When I wasn't listening to radio programs, I would listen to music while I painted. Even then it was mostly instrumental. I did go through a country phase, a pop phase, an exclusively Christian music phase, then came the Celtic phase and I never quite got over that one. There was a season when I was really into guitar solos (Lindsey Buckingham; Mark Knopfler; Steve Morse). Now I like a little bit of everything. Except rap and jazz. But it's a rare and special song that transports me into my story world. This particular one from Vanessa Mae does it.

  11. Heather, I'm listening to Neko's song just now... and keep hearing a faint echo of a train. I can see this song playing over a film shot of a train traveling across the plains.

  12. Heather, It just finished. If this song was not inspired in part by the sounds a train makes I'll be surprised.

  13. Hi Lori,
    Glad you like the music! I wouldn't be surprised either because trains feature prominently in many of Neko's songs. She has a song out now called "This Tornado Loves You" and in the vocals you can hear the sound of the storm...and it's very 'train-like'

    Glad you like 'em! I love Lindsey Buckingham too. He doesnt get enough praise as a musician. You may also like Daisy May Erlwine. I sorta like that 'new age old school country' type music.

    Here's that Neko Case song I was talking about:

  14. Just lovely! I also much prefer to listen to the music rather than watch the video, which becomes too distracting to me most often. I agree with you--this song really does evoke Kindred perfectly!

  15. Heather, I blame my even knowing who Lindsey Buckingham is on my husband, who was/is a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. Some of Lindsey's solo stuff is so offbeat, but I enjoy it.

    Neko has a very different style than anything I've heard. I do like her. I've been thinking and was surprised to realize that the only music with vocals I've listen to with any regularity for the past few years is Josh Groban, and half his songs are in languages I don't speak. :)

  16. Wow, if I could make music like this I would stop writing!

  17. Joan, It is a rather odd video, isn't it? I didn't like it at first, but it's kind of grown on me.

  18. Laura, I wish I had even a fraction of her talent. I'm such a musician wannabe. But writing isn't such a bad gig either.

    Though maybe if I'd picked an instrument twenty years ago instead of picking up a pen, and spent all the hours practicing it that I have writing, I'd be more than a wannabe. :)