Ah, fantasy. What fun it is to be spirited away on adventures of magic and mystery through worlds fraught with powerful creatures, enigmatic strangers, and sprawling landscapes! As a writer, music is the number one thing to get me in the mood to write, but when it comes to writing fantasy stories, I find I often have to be a little more choosy.
Is it just me or can it be a little hard to get into the fantasy writing mood when you’re listening to some of the happiest, bounciest pop songs on the radio today? And even if you don’t have terrible taste in music like me and listen to music that’s more words, instrument, and emotion than bounce, sometimes it can be hard to find music that can really transport you into the world of your creation. Which is why I’ve done my best to find the best sources for fantasy inspired music that can do just that.
While I don’t have any specific song recommendations because I tend to just use streaming services and pre-made playlists rather than curate my own stuff, I think that if you’re looking for the perfect songs to go with your fantasy novel, you’ll probably be able to find them through one of these services. Happy listening my fellow fantasy nerds!
1. Radio Rivendell
By far one of my favorite websites for finding and listening to fantasy inspired music is Radio Rivendell. It just had to be created with fantasy writers in mind.
Radio Rivendell is an online streaming radio that plays fantasy music 24/7 from many independent and smaller bands and composers. You have a couple of options when it comes to listening. Option one is to go to their website and listen to the stream (just click the play music button on the right side of the homepage and a new widow will open). Or, you can look up either of their Spotify playlists and listen to the selections there so you can easily mark them for later. Either way, this is one fantasy music website that you simply need to experience if you haven’t already.
2. Dungeon Synth
I have my boyfriend to thank for learning about this genre at all. Dungeon synth is a genre of music that is related to dark ambient, which itself rose out of the first wave of Norwegian black metal. However, the thing that differentiates dungeon synth from dark ambient is that it is more explicitly fantasy inspired and a little less new age-y.
If you want an idea of the style of songs in dungeon synth, think of music you might listen to while playing Dungeons and Dragons. Some songs might be more like the type you’d hear on Radio Rivendell, but others are much darker and will satisfy those writing grittier stories. However, there’s a lot of variety in dungeon synth, and it’s best to explore on your own and find an artist and album that you really like. I think that the best place to do this is on bandcamp where you can search for any music tagged dungeon synth and then select an artist’s album, go to their page, sample the songs and buy them if you like.
Some of my favorite albums are II by Fief, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucerian Myth (two of which are a little less dark), along with Apocrypha by Drakar Taso and The Rise of Specter by Old Tower (which are very dark).
3. Video Game Soundtracks & Movie Scores
I’ve been listening to to video game soundtracks and movie scores since I first started writing fantasy and they’re a longtime favorite of mine for fantasy mood music. I tend to find my video game soundtracks through YouTube playlists, and for movie scores, I either use Pandora to get a random smorgasboard, or go through Spotify if I’m thinking of a score in specific. There’s so much to listen to and the benefit of this is that you can pretty easily find a video game or movie with the same mood or tone as your novel, and this makes adapting it to your own writing experience that much easier.
So just for reference (and to get you started in case you haven’t really perused this genre of music and need a place to start) some of my favorite video game soundtracks to listen to are:
The Legend Of Zelda series
Final Fantasy series
Dark Souls series
Dragon Age series
And some of my favorite movie scores are from:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Lord of the Rings
Prince Of Persia
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Pride and Prejudice
Miyazaki movie scores
4. Classical, Jazz, and World Music
I’ll be honest, I definitely don’t use this category of music as often as I should, but it can be just as baller as many of the above listed categories, and I find it particularly useful when I write (or attempt to write) historical fantasy. Pandora is a great source for searching for these, though if you’re looking for a broader range of music and specifically music from another country, you may need to do a little research to find just the sound you want. But I believe this can be can be a great thing, especially to break out of the mold of Western-inspired fantasy music.
5. Take A Chance
And one final thing you can do is just search the internet for various other pre-made fantasy writing playlists. These might include lists that mix sounds from all the other genres I mentioned above, and I tend to go with these if I want a good, surprising mix and am not feeling too picky. Again, I find a lot of these through YouTube or Spotify, but sometimes a simple google search will yield something good. And hell, sometimes it doesn’t even have to be classified as fantasy music as all. If you’ve got something that fits your tastes, then you’ve got something good. Some of my favorites are:
How about you? Do you have a favorite type of music (fantasy themed or otherwise) that you like to listen to when you write? Is there something you think I could add to the list? I’ll admit my tastes cater a little more specifically to those writing high fantasy, but if you can think of any for another branch of fantasy (urban? steampunk?), please, do let me know!
Image found here.