Inspiration and Music, Part 2: What Inspires Me

Getting a bit more in the spirit of RPG Blog Carnival rather than just the letter, here are a few artists and pieces that have given me that little burst of inspiration.

Matti Paalanen’s work, particularly the Celestial Aeon Project. I forget who it was who first introduced me to these, but a couple listens and I was hooked. This stuff is made for RPG backgrounds, free to download, and excellent music in its own right. Jester’s Tear is my golden piece for this one; I once got an entire scene out of a listen through it.

Qntal. Normally I avoid vocal music for these sorts of exercises, since I find that words get in the way of what the song is trying to say, but for her work I make an exception. (Okay, and stick mostly to the ones in languages that aren’t English.) There’s a strong metal influence, also something I usually steer clear of, but the melodic emphases and the orchestral nature of the songs counteracts that for me. I actually owe her work for some recent inspiration, as two songs that were variations on the same tune and lyrics popped up on my headset just when I was blocked on what one of my more coy characters was actually up to.

While I draw from a variety of anime soundtracks, there are two I find the majority of my inspiration music comes from: Noir and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (both seasons). Noir I mostly use to establish a sense of rush and tension (or occasionally, to take advantage of some of the didn’t-actually-reach-the-anime vocal tunes to get some ideas; for some reason, I find the music comes through more strongly when these things aren’t in English). Higurashi has two selling points: having a nice collection of sheer-terror or overwhelming odds tunes, and having the greatest balance between tune variety and tune parallelism of any anime soundtrack I’ve listened to. (Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist does better on tune overlap, what with getting on for half the songs being variations on either Bratja or Dante, but Higurashi has both its plethora of Main Themes and a number of songs with paired major-minor arrangements or alternate instrumentations. Besides, I’m a sucker for gamelan.)

On the other hand, there are several artists whose work ended up both latching onto and then expanding an existing character or set of characters. The wiggly, disjointed notes of John Sampen’s Shadows and Dawning, for instance, attached themselves to the Fate-twisting demon spider Akhterim, but then I realized that the noises I was hearing when playing Concerto I for Alto Saxophone and Taped Instrument weren’t a mechanical failure, and it gave me the idea for his nastiest signature technique and the reason why he had it. Howard Baer’s Celtic Mystique ended up as the source for the themes for my Arthchwyl characters. And after using Kojo no Tsuki from Duo En’s Moonviewing as the theme/actual music for Taki at the ruins, I realized that there was more to her songs than just strumming on a koto, and started listening to the rest of the CD to come up with supernatural effects for all the other songs.

That’s the music that inspires me. What about you?

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