Daily Archives: January 6, 2011

Music to Write By! Enaid-Avalon: A Celtic Legend

This is the second in a slowly emerging series on music that I use to inspire me and keep me focused while I’m writing. For more background and a more thorough explanation of how and why this is useful, check out my earlier post on the subject, where I review Skillet’s Collide, and one by Stephanie on creating a soundtrack for your story.

General:  I stumbled onto Enaid this summer while I was surfing through e-music.com, looking for something similar to Loreena McKinnett.   The cover was quite attractive, and the samples were good, so I went ahead and took a chance on it.  Enaid is one of the many manifestations of David and Diane Arkenstone (Yes.  Arkenstone.), and is, in fact, Diane’s name spelled backwards.  The Arkenstones are quite talented, but, from my perspective, somewhat pretentious and their results are somewhat hit or miss, often even on the same album.  Some tracks are excellent–I find myself putting them on repeat and listening to the same one over and over–while others I might just outright delete, since I know I’ll cringe every time they’re played.

“Avalon:  A Celtic Legend” isn’t like that at all–though obviously some tracks are better than others, they’re all quite good.  One of the big problems I’ve had with the Arkenstones is their overuse of synthesizers and computerized music that sounds like it comes out of the New Age crank-o-matic music factory.  Done right it can be engaging.  Done wrong, it’s just cheesy.  This album strikes the right balance.  In fact, most of the time, it is difficult to tell where the real instruments stop and the computer starts.  The sound is full, painting detailed pictures of a magical time and place, where one is as likely to meet a fairy as not.

Another positive point in favor of Enaid’s usefulness is that it keeps a pretty even keel throughout.  There are faster pieces that sound more celebratory (like “Road to Avalon”) and others that are quite sad (“Guinevere’s Tears”) or contemplative (“Enchantment”), but no drastic departures into something jarring.  When you pair that with the fact that (aside from some chanting in “Enchantment”) there are no words, the album works very well in setting an otherworldly, celtic tone that can play in the background and drown out distractions.

And that is precisely how I’ve used “Avalon” so far in my writing.  It came in quite handy when I was working on one of the short stories that will be coming out in next month’s e-zine, “The Dwellers in the Deep.”  That is a story that seems to fall between the cracks, somewhat, and can’t decide whether it wants to be science fiction or plain fantasy.  There are elements of each intentionally added in, and “Avalon” helped by putting me in a mystical frame of mind when I was writing what could easily otherwise have been pure science fiction.   Of course, since the book I’m just finishing up is mostly sci-fi in nature, I haven’t needed too many scenes set with a sidhe otherworldliness, so I expect I will get more intentional use out of it with future projects.

Mr. Arkenstone-"Why no, I'm not pretentious. Why do you ask?"

So, in a nutshell…

Album: Avalon:  A Celtic Legend

Artist: Enaid (David and Diane Arkenstone)

Year: 2002

Genre: World/Celtic/New Age

Spectrum: Light/Contemplative/Sad

Pathos: Mystical

Good for: This album can set a good tone for writing straight fantasy or a mix of fantasy and history (i.e. Arthurian legends).  It can also work well with other geneses of writing, where the author wants to set a magical or mystical tone to a scene.

Want to purchase this album?  Click here.