Hugh / Cairmen (cairmen) wrote in bloodspell,
Hugh / Cairmen

Why The Punk?

So, why the music?

I'm a huge fantasy fan. You might even say obsessive. I've been reading it, watching it, playing it and writing it for the last 23 years or so, and in that time, unsurprisingly, I've developed a few opinions about it.

One of them is that I am sick and fucking tired of what I'm going to call saga fantasy.

JRR Tolkein was an absolute genius, no doubt about it, and his work remains some of the finest fantasy fiction available. But Tolkein was trying to do something very specific with his work - he was attempting to follow the lead of the Norse sagas which he loved, and create a mythology of great heroes and their tale - their saga. And here's the key point about a saga - it happened a long time ago, and the heroes you're lionising are long-dead.

So, these heroes are larger than life, and their story is one of times past, of old glory. Tolkein's been criticised for this in the past. And when you tie that "feel" to Hollywood scoring approaches, it's easy to see that classical music - redolent of epic scenes, of scale, and of age, is entirely appropriate.

But a fantasy story, a story set in a fantastical universe, even if it's a medieval/renaissance society, doesn't *have* to be saga fantasy. And from my point of view, most of the more interesting fantastical work of recent years - I'm thinking Robin Hobb's Assassin series (brilliant writer, in spite of her lunatic views on fanfic), George R R Martin's Game of Thrones, and of course Joss Whedon's Buffy and Angel series (fantasy set in the modern day) - hasn't been so set on Events In Time Past. It's about events happening now. Whenever "now" happens to be.

"But it's a historical setting!". Our heroes don't have MTV or fighter jets, no. But from the point of view of the characters, this isn't history. This story is happening now. And from the storyteller's point of view, I don't have to view these characters as Ancient Heroes Of Old. I can instead view them as people, with flaws and virtues, reacting to events and situations happening, from their point of view, in the modern day. Now.

My biggest inspiration in this is the stonkingly marvellous "Knight's Tale", a tale of a squire in medieval England who rises, through trickery and luck, to become a knight. So far, so trad. The genius of Knight's Tale was to tell the story using contemporary music (there's a particularly marvellous scene set to "The Boys are Back In Town") and contemporary slang and dialogue. Because, after all, for the characters this isn't happening long, long ago. It's happening now.

("Shrek" is another fantastic example of the same idea - arguably even better-executed, but less relevant here because it's partially a parody.)

Hence the punk music. Because BloodSpell is a punk story - it's a story about rebels, people who are fighting the system, people who are going their own way. If our heroes lived in the modern day, they'd be listening to punk, rock and electronica (and hip-hop, but we're not down enough with the kids in the street to know our way around that scene). This is the soundtrack that reflects what they're going through. And the lyrics reflect what's happening in the story at any time - "Rockstar", for example, on the steps, when Jered's going to be initiated as a Black Monk, the best of the best - a superhero, a rockstar. Other times, we're using the lyrics to comment on the action, as you'll see (with any luck) in Episode 4.

BloodSpell isn't about Great Heroes of Long Ago. It's about people fighting for their lives right now - even though it's not the same "now" we're used to. Do you go to clubs to listen to Bach*? Played air guitar to Beethoven? Gotten ready for a tough confrontation with some top-volume Schuman? Then why the hell would we use classical orchestral music to reflect our character's lives? They're living in just as modern a day as us.

*OK - some people out there probably do find classical music modern and fresh to them. If I listened to Bach as the soundtrack of my life, maybe I'd want to use it - but I don't.
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