Music to Write By – My Current Playlist

Right now I’m more in editing (and rewriting) mode in my work than I am first-draft writing. But no matter what I’m writing, music is my tool for getting me out of daily life mode and into composing and storytelling mode.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been listening to lately:

AOMusic – Edge Walkers

Nothing like soothing instrumental music when I just want to let my mind relax. To properly brainstorm, I find that I need to be relaxed–or, at least, not all mentally involved in or stressed about something. The music of AO never fails to pull my mind into the music, and, by extension, pull me into the worlds I’m creating.

Gjallarhorn – Suvetar 

Since I’m writing a story that’s loosely inspired by the legends of Finland, it’s almost necessary that I listen to Finnish folk music and/or songs about their mythology. Besides, it’s a cool music video.

Ulla Pirttijärvi – Mattharaku askai

The Sami people of arctic Finland are important players in my story, so I use their music for both research and for inspiration. Ulla’s songs are some of my favorites.

The Two Towers – The Riders of Rohan 

High fantasy, dramatic battles, and the Viking-like people of Rohan – what’s not inspirational about this track from Lord of the Rings? Specifically, though, Howard Shore’s amazing score (all of it – not just this track) plain gets me excited about storytelling.

Eivør – Min Modir (My Mother)

Besides the fact that Eivør makes it onto almost any “music favorites” or “currently playing” list, the tribal arrangement of this song is powerful and empowering. Eivør’s voice is otherworldly, and always puts me in a writing frame of mind.

Valravn – Marsk

More instrumental music, this time with a primitive and folk-ish sound. Perfect for conjuring up images of people and places in my fantasy world.

What’s on your current writing playlist?


Music Review: “Hokulea,” AOMusic

Hokulea is the latest album by the world music fusion group AOMusic. “World music” is truly the best term—sounds from India, Ireland, North Carolina, and every place in between are heard on this album. Happy, energetic, full of color and imagination—these are some of the words I could use to describe the theme of Hokulea.

South African-born Miriam Stockley leads the vocals on almost every track, accompanied by children’s choirs from several nations. Miriam is most well-known for her work with Adiemus in the 1990s, and also has many collaborations and solo albums to her name.

Her voice is at once both youthful and mature. Shouting African singing, the floating waves of New Age ambience, the happy rhythms of children’s games—Miriam Stockley can sing it all. She could carry this album all by herself, but the choirs of Ireland and Nepal and America only add to the sound, like adding delicious layers onto a cake.

Like the sounds of the music, AO’s lyrics are timeless and come from all over the world. Hindi, Japanese, and Swahili words are sprinkled throughout their songs. The title song “Hokulea” means “Star of Gladness” in Polynesian.

“Irie Grá Medley” dances the listener through the jigs and reels of Ireland. “Yaka Matai” shouts praise songs from the Xhosa of southern Africa. And every song sings of joy and life.

Altogether, Hokulea is a celebration of sound that you don’t want to miss!

AO Music on YouTube

AO Music’s website

Miriam Stockley’s website