Group Discussion: Music in fantasy?


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Group Discussion: Music in fantasy?

heinäkuu 14, 2021, 11:04 pm

Hello FantasyFans,

Do you have a favorite fantasy book which incorporates music? I can think of several books where the main character is a musician, and their music is involved in a magical struggle or feat of some sort. Examples include Cart and Cwidder, War for the Oaks, and Song of the Beast (which I am currently in the middle of). I know that the main character in The Name of the Wind is a musician, but I can't remember off the top of my head if he performed magic using music or if the music was mainly used to drive the plot along, and to present prophecies and atmosphere. Maybe someone can remind me?

There are also books or series where the entire magical system depends on music, such as Sing the Four Quarters or Samaria or even the Abhorsen series. If your favorite example is edging into the sci-fi category, like the Crystal Singers trilogy, that works too.

What are some examples you like of musical magic in fantasy books? Are there any ways of using music in stories or magic systems that you prefer or especially dislike? I'm not always a huge fan of the lyrics being included. I adore War for the Oaks, but the song lyrics in it are one of my least favorite parts.

heinäkuu 14, 2021, 11:29 pm

The first thing coming to mind is Tom Bombadil in LOTR, whose spirit & power are embodied in song. Charles de Lint's fantasy novels often give song an important role, though not necessarily what would be described as stereotypical "magic".
In SF there's Songmaster by Orson Scott Card.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 12:15 am

Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin, although it's been so long since I read it that I don't recall much except that I liked it.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 5:37 am

curse of the mistwraith and sequels heavily feature bards, Arithon would like nothing better than to spend his days playing and singing. Sadly life is not so easy for him. I think the music is more pronounced in some of the later books than the first. The magic system relies on harmonics and resonant forces so musical terms come through a lot. Plus it's a brilliant read - if long. The final concluding work is still being written.

There's a reverence for music in pern of course especially dragonsinger

century rain features a jazz musican living in an alternative Paris. It's very SF, and music plays only a small part.

I#ve tagged music in Fool's run also SF - but remember very little about it.

cantata in coral and ivory which is wonderful, if slightly odd. - Etiquette at court has any significant statement announced in song.

born to exile a harpist has a teleporting ability and re-discovers his family. He'd rather stay and play the harp

the infinity concerto probably urban fantasy these days, but written before such were commonplace. A composer writes music that opens the door to the sidhe.

All of these are worth reading, I think there's a lot of musical scene setting much of the fantasy worlds - where historically news was frequently sung and many people couldn't read, it had a lot more importance in society, and as a means of tribal bonding before widespread sport etc. Such themes carry through into the settings very well.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 5:59 am

I can also think of a book a friend gave me ages ago, an urban fantasy with bards: Knights Of Ghosts And Shadows by Mercedes Lackey.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 15, 2021, 6:19 am

Patricia McKillip's Song for the basilisk and The bards of Bone Plain both feature musical characters and settings. Her books all seem musical to me because of her poetic prose, even when music is not part of the story.

Gossamer axe is on my TBR pile, a book about a Celtic harper from the past who must team up with a metal band in the present day (1980s I think) to rescue her lover.

Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books feature music and song for entertainment and recording and conveying history. The Bardic collegium is usually in the background but many of the Heralds are musical. Lyrics and sometimes music are included as an appendix, and CDs are (or used to be) available with recordings of the songs.

The soprano sorceress series contains a musical magic system, although it's been a long time since I read it to remember details.

Louise Marley's Singers of Nevya series blends F and SF as music-powered magic is the sole means of enabling life on a very cold planet. I really enjoyed the world in this series.

Katherine Roberts' YA Echorium sequence is another book where singers have powers. They learn songs that will induce sleep, laughter, sadness, fear and death.The magic system is original but I found the characters and plot a bit cliched.

>4 reading_fox: Love the Dragonsong trilogy best of all the Pern books!

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 15, 2021, 6:40 am

Had a thought and checked a tagmash

How could I forget soul music!

And I've never heard of one of the top hits gossamer axe - >6 Sakerfalcon: but it sounds a lot of fun.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 1:19 pm

The Devil You Know by Mike Carey is the first book in the Felix Castor series; Felix is a professional exorcist and uses melodies (usually played on a flute) to work an exorcism spell.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 7:25 pm

The Wishsong of Shannara sort of went there. Whew, that was a while ago.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 8:33 pm

The whole Symphony of Ages by Elizabeth Haydon uses music as part of the magic system.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 8:45 pm

>4 reading_fox: I read Fool's Run within the last year or two. The music gives the players a reason to get where they're going, but yeah, I don't recall it being particularly pertinent thematically very much.

Another one for the list:
Naomi Kritzer's "Eliana's Song" duology that starts with Fires of the Faithful has quite a lot of musical content and music as magic. I enjoyed the books... and have liked Kritzer's work overall.

heinäkuu 15, 2021, 10:02 pm

>6 Sakerfalcon: >7 reading_fox:

I read Gossamer Axe! When it first came out in paperback (lovely cover). Read the sequels too. I liked it back then, but I haven't reread it since.

Yeah, pretty much anything by Emma Bull ends up with music of some sort in it. The Liavek stories (by Bull et al.) included musicians, and a band, and a music venue.

heinäkuu 16, 2021, 6:33 am

>11 Niko: I love the Eliana's song duo! It's a great example for this thread.

>12 karenb: That makes me think of the Bordertown anthologies, where music plays a strong part in the setting and many of the stories. Not surprising given that Bull, Shetterley, and De Lint are among the contributors!

heinäkuu 18, 2021, 11:25 am

>6 Sakerfalcon: Wow, that cover for Gossamer Axe! Very iconic. And the description of Singers of Nevya is definitely intriguing.

>8 Darth-Heather: That idea is hilarious to me. I suppose that if one needs a musical instrument to cast exorcisms, flute would be especially convenient.

Many people are mentioning De Lint. I was an avid reader of his works 15 years ago, but now my memory is failing me. Are there any books of his that you would identify as especially good examples of how he uses music?

heinäkuu 20, 2021, 11:42 am

Juliet Marillier's new series starting with Harp of Kings has players/singers as its main characters but the music aspect is not particularly central to the plot.

heinäkuu 21, 2021, 10:31 pm

>14 Kanarthi: I think The Little Country by de Lint has a musician main character and a fair amount of music, although I have not read it in many years.

The Harp of Imach Thyssel by Patricia Wrede features a magical harp.

Tigana by G. G. Kaye has a group of musicians as the main characters, and I think of it as having a lot of music, although it is separate from the magic.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman also has a gifted musician as a protagonist.

elokuu 11, 2021, 9:07 am

The Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster was very good. I read this many, many years ago while in high school. I believe it would hold up today. I had a brief fling with hunting down Jimi Hendrix albums after reading this series.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 11, 2021, 9:35 am

Jake Stonebender is a folk singer and guitarist. He narrates the stories in the Callahan’s series and appears in later series too. These mix science fiction and fantasy tropes, never seriously. His performances with piano man, Fast Eddie, feature in some of the stories. Lyrics are included. At least one of the audio versions include author Spider Robinson performing some of the songs.

elokuu 11, 2021, 1:04 pm

Recent posts reminded me of a good fantasy series I forgot before: the Dog Days novels by John Levitt. The protagonist is a former "magical enforcer" countering magical ill-doers, who wanted to retire from that work. He now ekes out a living guitar playing, but magical threats continue to confront him. His supernatural familiar is -- "well, let's call him a dog", Louie. I really enjoyed the special flavor of this series, and am sad that he seems to have discontinued it after only four books.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 11, 2021, 1:59 pm

>19 rshart3: Dang it! Not a one of the five library systems I have cards for has book 1 in their electronic collections. One of them has books 3 and 4.

elokuu 11, 2021, 7:52 pm

The Name of the Wind the protagonist is a serious lute player. It was one of my favorite aspects of the book.

elokuu 11, 2021, 11:15 pm

>20 2wonderY: Interlibrary loan? Or, since they are mass market paperbacks, you might be able to buy them online at a reasonable price.

elokuu 12, 2021, 12:07 am

>14 Kanarthi: The Little Country is probably the most obvious example of De Lint's use of trad music in his fantasy writings. It even has a compilation of fiddle tunes, credited to the main character, as an appendix.

>17 Jenson_AKA_DL: I also immediately thought of Foster's Spellsinger books, which I read probably in junior high school. Pretty sure I'd have a hard time getting into them now, but as long as I just revisit them in memory, they were fantastic.

Another title worth mentioning: Stephen Brust's Cowboy Feng's Space Bar and Grille checks a number of old-timey tunes, and Brokedown Palace is built up, in a reasonably subtle and non-intrusive way, on a stack of references to Robert Hunter's lyrics for the Grateful Dead. (there may be some Barlow tunes cited in there, but none come to mind)

(not that I'd try to pick out a favorite "fantasy book that incorporates music", of course - it'd be like trying to pick a favorite detective story that incorporates murder)

elokuu 14, 2021, 6:57 am

Tad Williams' protagonist in War of the Flowers is a musician, but I can't recall how much that factors into his journey.

marraskuu 5, 2021, 8:47 pm

Medusa Uploaded the protaganist is 'killed' but is rescued bu and AI. Since she is 'dead' she and her robot discover all sorts of secrets of the ruling controlers on this spaceship. Before her parents died they inserted a music implant with a whole playlist that she regularly uses throughout the book. Knew a lot of it but had to google to find out more. Works realy well together with the plot.