So, for a while now I’ve been talking about soundtracks going with Chasing Shadows and In Extremis in general. I haven’t really said what I’ve meant though by soundtracks. I realize that this is going to be a little lengthy blog post, so for those of you who don’t want tor read all of this (or read it now), there will be a TL;DR section at the end, bolded for your convenience.
There are some things I want to discuss, but first an important question needs to be answered: Why should a book have a soundtrack? I don’t really have a super cool explanation, but why not? Why can’t books have soundtracks? The main problem is trying to set pieces that go with a specific speed of reading, which is a problem I had run into but I think I might have solved. Other than that, there are plenty of good reasons to have a soundtrack for a book. For those readers who really like to immerse yourself in the universe of a good book, music is yet another way to make that happen. Some people also find that reading with instrumental music to be nice, and what better music to read to than music written by the author?
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been intending for a while to do two soundtracks, one with typical/normal orchestration for soundtracks, and another with the same pieces but arranged for piano. Over time, that’s changed a little. Now, I still want to do two soundtracks, a “normal” one and then one with piano. I’m really excited about the piano soundtrack, and have been because the sound of the piano is such a unique and yet diverse sound. You can play several different kinds of music with a piano and still be able to recognize the tune. What has changed though, is how I want to handle each soundtrack.
Originally, I wanted to do the soundtracks in a more straightforward style, similar to the soundtracks of something like The Legend of Zelda series, or Final Fantasy, where you have very easily identifiable themes for characters, areas, etc. From there, the piano soundtrack was going to be a simple rearrangement from the instruments used in the normal one, collapsing them down into several layers of piano. Ultimately I’ve realized this is somewhat of a disservice and not a completely honest production of music. Because the soundtracks are separate, in my opinion they should be more different than simply just changing the instrumentation of every track.
What I want to do now with the original soundtrack is different in the style they’ll be composed. Instead of the straightforward style of presenting themes, I think that a more atmospheric approach will not only make for music that suits the atmosphere (pardon the pun) of the book better, but also be better music to have on the background while reading. Now, there’s plenty of different types of atmospheric music, so let me clear that up real quick. If you’ve heard the stuff I’ve already posted (head over to Sights and Sounds if you haven’t), it sounds like that. I’m also drawing more inspiration now from composers like Jeremy Soule (from Skyrim/Oblivion and I think Guild Wars fame), Penderecki and Chopin. Different styles, but that’s where the influences are. Specifically, songs like this:
Now, because tracks like these don’t lend themselves to piano conversion easily, it gives me a more challenging and rewarding task of rearranging the themes and pieces themselves to create piano solos and duets. I think these piano pieces will be much more worthy of being their own soundtrack. I also think that the quality of the music being made will be higher and less of a port. The combination of the new musical style and the better piano arrangements I think will create a more compelling soundtrack for fans of In Extremis to enjoy.
TL;DR: In Extremis is getting soundtracks because A) Why not and B) I think it’s a cool experience to be able to read while listening to music the author created for the book. The “normal” soundtrack is going to sound like Skyrim more than Zelda or Final Fantasy, and subsequently the piano arrangements will be a higher quality.