Who Is Mistral Dawn?

Mistral Dawn is a thirty-something gal who has lived on both coasts of the US but somehow never in the middle. She currently resides in the Southeast US with her kitty cats (please spay or neuter! :-)) where she works as a hospital drudge and attends graduate school. Taken By The Huntsman is her first effort at writing fiction and if it is well received she has ideas for several more novels and short-stories in this series. Please feel free to visit her on FaceBook or drop her a line at mistralkdawn@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

#Music To #Soothe The #Savage #Beast...Or #Excite It? ;-)

Hey Everyone!!! :-)

Something occurred to me last night that I thought it would be fun to share with you.  I think most people probably will acknowledge that music can be (ahem ;-) ) instrumental (pun intended) in setting a mood.  When I write, I often listen to music to help get me in the right frame of mind.  What I listen to helps to set the tone of what I'm writing, and even, sometimes, influences the phrases my characters use to express their thoughts.

Recently, I asked a writer's group I belong to for help in composing a playlist to listen to while I write my next novel.  I intend for this story to be a little bit darker than the previous books in the series, and so I asked my fellow authors for suggestions that were "the musical equivalent of Edgar Allen Poe."  When I think of Poe's writing I always think of a story that is dark and moody, and just a little bit...off.  Rich and delicious, slightly dangerous, fun.  A tale to send shivers down your spine and cause you to look around to make sure the danger in the pages hasn't morphed into reality to lurk in the shadows of your home.  Some people watch scary movies around Halloween, I get out my collection of Poe.

So what is the musical equivalent of that spine-tingling, ghostly-fingers-on-your-shoulder, Gothic caliginosity?  Well my author friends came up with some really awesome suggestions, many of which I added to my playlist, but each person's interpretation of music is different.  While I certainly agreed with most of their suggestions, that didn't tell me what songs touched my soul in that way.  So I thought about it.

Now I love music from all genres.  Most of the music I listen to has lyrics, and I love hearing how different composers express feelings common to the human condition in poetry and then figure out a way to set that poetry to a tune.  But, to an extent, when words are used the listener feels what the musician "tells" them to feel, and for this exercise I wanted to figure out how the songs made me feel.  So I decided to limit myself to classical music without operatic accompaniment, and I came up with two songs: Night On Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky and In The Hall Of The Mountain King by Grieg.  Now to be honest, the number of classical compositions I'm familiar enough with to name off of the top of my head is limited, so there may very well be others that are more fitting, but I wanted to stick with songs I already knew.  This way I wouldn't "taint" the experiment by listening to songs to see if they engendered the desired feelings, because they were songs I had already felt that way about in the past when I listened to them.

Now, I don't know if all of you are familiar with the songs I've named.  If you're not, you really should check them out next time you're in the mood for a little dark music.  This rendition Night On Bald Mountain by the Ludwig Symphony Orchestra is outstanding:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyR-poMsSWI . One of the things I love about this song is that while most of it is rather dangerous sounding, at the end it lightens up and becomes a message of hope.  Disney did an interpretation of the song in the original Fantasia which was very good and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLCuL-K39eQ .

Night On Bald Mountain seems an obvious choice when looking for dark and spooky music, but the reason for my including In The Hall Of The Mountain King might not be as apparent.  At first blush, it doesn't sound particularly dark.  It sounds busy and hurried, but not necessarily dangerous.  When I was a child I had a computer game where In The Hall Of The Mountain King was used as background music for a busy little gnome who had to run around collecting things so that they could be put together into a machine. Sorry, no, I don't remember the name of the game. ;-)  That game really did fit the song, at least on the surface.  But, remember, this is about what the music makes me feel, and for some reason this particular song has always conjured up dark images for me.  I always wondered what that little gnome got up to when he wasn't entertaining children with his craftsmanship. ;-)  Then I got on YouTube and found that I'm not alone in my interpretation of the song.  Take a look at this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r__Dk4oWGJQ and watch the animation.  Pretty dark, isn't it?  And then I found something that really expresses the way I feel about the song.  Apocalyptica did a version of In The Hall Of The Mountain King which you can listen to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zf2aIVKp1OY .  I think this rendition is positively brilliant, and it has definitely made it onto my playlist. :-)

So, what kind of music gets your juices flowing?  Happy? Sad? Angry? Frantic? Soft? Gentle? Soothing? Jarring?  What "does it" for you?  Or are you like me, and does it depend on what mood you're looking for?  I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to leave a comment or two. :-)


  1. I'm eclectic. Anything from electronic (Harold Budd and Brian Eno) to 80s edge (Gabriel Genesis, Talking Heads, Roxie Music), Laurie Anderson, Kate Bush, OMD, Sia, Imogen Heap, the Who, the Stones and of course the Beatles to Mozart, Bach, Stravinsky and Chopin.

    1. Ha! So just all the classics, right? ;-) Thanks for the comment! :-)