Off to choir camp in a little under an hour – a full weekend of singing in which we’ll complete (what we’re told is) the equivalent of five normal rehearsals. Neither laptop nor iPad is coming along, so thought I’d try to get one more post out before disappearing.
And now, good albums for fantasy – a series of blogs outlining the music I find helps create an appropriate atmosphere for and foster a good mindset for writing fantasy.
This second installment is “Varekai,” an album featuring the music of Cirque du Soleil’s 2003 show of the same name. This music was composed by Violaine Corradi, who has also composed for Cirque du Soleil’s “Dralion” and “Zaia.” My iTunes library classifies this album as World music. I agree, but I’m honestly not educated enough in the matter to know exactly what parts of the world these mysterious songs draw inspiration from. I recently heard an example of Okinawan music, and some of that vocal style pops up in at least one “Varekai” song, though I can’t recall if that section made the album.
If I had to choose one word to describe this album, I would choose that I chose above: mysterious. It’s sometimes light and delicate and mysterious. It’s sometimes rhythmic, steady, and mysterious. It’s sometimes fast-paced and exciting … and mysterious. Stand out tracks for me on this album (and I’m looking at the 2005(?) re-released version) are Vocea and Kero Hireyo.
I’ll try to steer clear of the actual show, which is a little difficult as it’s my favourite Cirque show and absolutely incredible, and focus only on the music. The composer makes extensive use of percussion, giving many of the tracks a driving, almost tribal feeling. But delicately tribal. This is truly beautiful music, and so interesting. Keyboards and strings are also prominent; the album features several amazing violin solos. As for vocals, there are some spoken parts and choral sections, and there a two lead vocalists, a man and a woman, who are (as with most Cirque vocalists) featured as part of the actual show. When singing together their voices match beautifully, each possessed of very clear, very acrobatic voices.
These two singers inspired two characters in my completed novel – I think this led to two more of the show’s character having a heavy influence on the story as well – so of course this music was perfect when writing anything related to those characters. Every track on this album has been featured on various randomised playlists used in the creation of this novel, and were listened to numerous times in order while working through other Cirque albums of a similar feel. The environment this music has been most beneficial in writing is an isolated, quaint little city hidden in a blessed, cut-off corner of a continent. This city is inhabited by many tribes – some wearing feathers, others scales, and some the manes of lions – that united so long ago that they have, putting their different appearances aside, become one people. The music of “Varekai” embodies these technologically primitive, highly spiritual people and their luscious world – deep forest, sprawling plains, and mighty river – so well that when I play this album I now see it before when I close my eyes.
Being mysterious and strong with the occasional fragile, drifting track breaking it up, I would recommend “Varekai” in the writing of highly fantastical worlds full of bright colour with new and unusual sights to behold every day, populated by unbelievable races. I perhaps wouldn’t recommend it so highly for swords and sorcery – the sound is too earthy, and doesn’t bring to mind weapons, war or magic. But for a project in which the world and people itself are the magic, “Varekai” will work wonders.