Good books for teens, and I like to think Black Blade is among them, always have a story to tell. Why were they written? How were they written? With the advent of the internet one of the joys of being an author is getting to know your readers, and as part of that process II’ve been asked, several times, about the music I listened to while I wrote. Black Blade and eventually I was asked to write a guest post for Reading for the Stars and Moon, and who could resist a website with a title like that? Click here for the original.
Music is an extremely powerful tool for the imagination, it strengths atmosphere and preserves the author’s intent while still allowing the reader to freely imagine the details and texture the author choses to leave blank. I believe you can spot good books for teens (or otherwise) by their atmosphere. Plot, or story, is vital, but it’s just not enough on its own.
The said, Black Blade’s atmosphere, and therefore “imaginary” soundtrack is sort of set in stone. Since Black Blade is almost a comedy, you might expect me to have listened to all sorts of silly music (which is what I usually listen to), but this is where the “almost” is important. Black Blade’s characters are pretty over the top, sometimes absurd, but the plot and atmosphere are always serious and often sombre, so the comedy really comes from contrast rather than any specific action.
I can’t score the whole thing, but plenty of musical pieces went into building the atmosphere, and since the atmosphere really grew from John Boorman’s Excalibur, we’ll start there.
If you watch Excalibur (and I highly recommend you do) the soundtrack will stand out immediately, the key player being Wagner’s Siegfried’s Funeral March. It’s the keystone of the film’s atmosphere and Black Blade’s as well. In fact, I’m listening to it right now and feeling really proud of myself.
Obviously, though, playlists aren’t composed of a single song. I tried to diversify and ended up with a lot of classical stuff.
Most people know Night On Bald Mountain, which I think comes in louder and louder towards Black Blade’s end, and I always imagined the crowded breathing and clattering equipment of the Mason’s Guild accompanied by Prokofiev’s Dance Of The Knights.
I know, you probably think I’m boring. All posturing about authorial intent and atmosphere aside, I found that writing with these really old, forbidding pieces added something that I couldn’t find in more modern music, and lyrics were right out.
Maybe I’m just ignorant of the music I really needed since all I usually listen to are non-sense mashups and songs made of sampled dog barks.
What would you suggest as the best sound track for Black Blade?