How to write Fantasy Music (7 Tips)
Not epic, not action, not dramatic…but peaceful and beautiful. Such as the music of the elves in the Lord of the Rings. Or music often heard in fantasy RPGs in the more peaceful areas.
Here are some great tips to get you started! =)
- Slow Tempo for a Peaceful Mood
- Pleasing Harmonies (Low Tension)
- Soothing Vibe (No Piercing Sounds)
- Airy Instruments (Woodwinds, Pads)
- Long Notes (Legato and Dynamic Expression)
- Deep Space (Reverb and Air between Notes)
- Low Contrast (Minimal Rhythm and Accents)
Styles of Fantasy Music
There are of course a lot of different styles of “Fantasy Music”, but this guide is more about that mellow, laidback, dreamy, enchanting type of fantasy music. From the dreamy, magical and otherworldly “Lothlorien Theme” from The Lord of the Rings, to the idyllic, sweet and romantic tone of Elwyn Forest Theme in the World of Warcraft game soundtrack.
Live Examples of Magical Fantasy Music
You should also get familiar with the style and mood of magical fantasy music. Here are a couple of great examples that I recommend you to listen to and analyze, preferably with your eyes closed so you in as much musical information as you can.
- Lord of the Rings Soundtrack – Many Meetings
- World of Warcraft Soundtrack – Elwyn Forest
- Skyrim Soundtrack – From Past to Present
- Fable Soundtrack – Albion Awaits
Featured Composers – Fantasy Music Tracks
Here are some great fantasy music compositions created by composers in the “Professional Composers Online Community” :
Fantasy Music by Mike Heimburger
Fantasy Music by Chris Fassl
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Fantasy Music for Writing
Mood-matched activities for your playlist, “crossfade songs” offers a serene soundscape perfect for screenwriters, authors, and storytellers seeking an aural backdrop to fuel their creative process., this playlist is a wellspring of unique, calm, orchestral, atmospheric, and cinematic fantasy music, designed to evoke the otherworldly realms and ignite the imagination. the genres—fantasy, dungeon synth, medieval folk, video game music, commons—form a tapestry of sounds as intricate as the stories waiting to be penned., with 186 tracks, and 100 of those tracks carrying detailed data, the playlist extends over 3 hours and 13 minutes, amounting to 11,587,395 seconds of continuous inspiration..
It’s a substantial vault of music, with a following of 42,057, indicating its potent effect on the creative community.
The slow BPM tempo, set at 99 BPM, is deliberate, allowing for a contemplative pace that aligns with the thoughtful nature of writing and reading. The absence of vocals ensures that the music enhances concentration rather than distracts, allowing the listener’s inner narrative to remain in the foreground.
A mode of 0.38 with an average of 0 suggests a balance between major and minor scales, providing emotional versatility to suit various narrative moods. The low speechiness score of 0.036887 implies minimal lyrical interruption, while the danceability of 0.283879 suggests a subtle rhythm, perhaps reflecting the gentle flow of a writer’s thoughts.
This playlist is an invitation to calmness, categorized under the emotion of calm within the calm emotion category, making it an ideal companion for study and deep focus. It beckons those who craft worlds with words to dive into a musical journey as rich and varied as their own creations. #FantasyMusic #CreativeInspiration #OrchestralCalm #StorytellersSoundtrack
Playlists echoing your musical mood.
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Writing fantasy songs: part 1.
First, I have to just give one of my usual disclaimers. I am not a poet or a songwriter, but I do have some small background in music. I understand the principles of rhythm, time, notes, etc., but I’d never call myself a musician.
Second, I don’t think I really have a handle on what makes ANY song great or a bit of a fail. Some of the most successful songs in the history of the world have been really stupid, and other fantastic, deeply moving, intensely beautiful songs have been relegated to the dustbin of musical history. I think fantasy songs are probably similar—beauty is in the eye of the reader, after all, and a song one person sees as beautiful and moving and important to the book might be seen as a fail to someone else.
I think it’s important to consider, first, why you need music in your story. I don’t think every work of fantasy has to have music—certainly not every fantasy book includes a gratuitous song!—but it’s important to recognize that music is important to culture. Every culture has some kind of music, and there are a variety of important functions it plays. As first what kind of song you want to write for your book and why you want to write it.
Some examples of types of songs:
- Drinking or bawdy songs. No one expects great poetry from a drinking song. Look at The Bear and the Maiden Fair from A Song of Ice and Fire . You don’t have to be a genius to rhyme “bear” with “fair,” and the song does exactly what it’s supposed to do—gives people a rhythm to drink to. Certainly the bar for lyrics is pretty low on a drinking song. All you need is some semblance of rhythm and rhyme (which I’ll talk more about next week).
- Nonsense songs. A little different than drinking songs, although there can be overlap. A nonsense song can just be a little kid’s song or few lines of words that people hum for no reason. A good example is the nonsense song in Much Ado About Nothing. “Hey nonnynonny,” anyone?
- Prophetic songs. I think you have a lot of flexibility in rhythm and lyrics with songs of prophecy. When I think of prophetic songs, I think of the Psalms in the Bible. In Hebrew, they have some rhyme and rhythm that doesn’t translate into English. They were certainly intended as songs of praise and worship, but many also contain prophecies, according to Bible scholars. You can write your prophetic song without quite so much attention to rhythm and time and mention that the prophecies were originally written in a different language.
- Anthems. National anthems, house anthems, ethnic anthems, battle songs—I think to make these songs a clear win, you need to write them with a strong rhythm and close attention to the poetry of the lyrics. This does not mean they have to be fierce, driving rhythms, necessarily. Plenty of real life national anthems don’t have an intense, driving beat. But I do think you have to think of how people would sing these kinds of songs. Would they be sung on national holidays? During tournaments? On forced marches? To keep up the spirits on the battlefield? If you’re trying to keep spirits up, you want a strong beat and some meaningful, encouraging words.
- Religious songs. A little different than songs of prophecy, religious songs would most likely be songs of praise, worship, supplication, or thankfulness to a deity or deities. Again, these songs probably need a clear rhythm and easy lyrics, especially if the people singing them will be common folk. You could probably write something a little more complicated for those in your particular religious orders as they would likely be more educated in the ways of the religion.
Songs can also be strong character-building tools. Maybe the hard-drinking pirate’s favorite song is a childhood nonsense song his mother used to hum when he had trouble sleeping. Maybe the demure princess surprises everyone by singing the bawd when she has a harp in hand. Maybe the priest feels guilty because his favorite tune is one he heard in a tavern, so he sets religious lyrics to it. How can you use the music you write to build character?
Next week, I’ll look more closely at specific rhythms and how to use them in your songs.
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Tags: Writer's Wednesday , writing advice
Posted in Writing
About the Author
Amy Rose Davis Amy Rose Davis is an independent epic fantasy author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Bryce, and their four children. Bryce provides comic relief, editing, and inspiration, and regularly talks her off the various ledges she climbs onto. Amy is an unapologetic coffee addict, but her other vices include chocolate, margaritas, and whiskey. She prefers cats to dogs (but houses both), loves the color green, and enjoys the smell of new pencils and crayons. She has eclectic tastes in friends, music, and books, and is as likely to watch 300 as Becoming Jane. Amy's published works include the novella “Silver Thaw” and the novel “Ravenmarked”. Her books are available in all major e-bookstores.
This is an interesting article. I used to include loads of poems and songs, because Tolkien did so that was “obviously” correct, but I’ve come to the conclusion my poetic style doesn’t suit this. If I have singing, I normally just describe it.
Incidentally, one important category that isn’t in your list is love songs, which probably account for more songs historically than any other category.
Oh, very true–love songs! I guess I was thinking of most of the recent ones I’ve read/heard, and I don’t recall any fantasy love songs in my recent reading. But that’s a really good point. Even Shakespeare wrote love sonnets (which you could consider love songs, in a way). And love songs could involve a thing instead of a person, I suppose–I mean, a song about loving the sea, for instance.
I try to avoid songs if I can. It really has to be important for the plot, character, or setting for me to go there. I’m not a gifted poet at all!
Thoughtful article. I include songs in many of my stories because I can’t help it–I’m a professional musician as well as writer so often my characters are musicians, too. When there’s music in your soul, you have to set it free. 🙂
Katy, that’s fantastic. I think who we are really does tend to shine through in our stories. That’s probably why I always end up writing some kind of romantic storyline… I guess I’m a hopeless romantic at heart… 🙂
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