Fantasy books are like music

It struck me recently as I was deciding what to read next, that it was like deciding what music to listen to next.

Should I read / listen to something new and modern, or go for a well-known classic? Something to relax into or feel stimulated by?

For example, if Tolkien is to Mozart as David Gemmell is to Led Zeppelin, what music fits Brandon Sanderson?

MozartJRR Tolkien

Dear Mister Fantasy

Similarities abound, I love comparisons, how about the joy of reading and the joy of listening to music?

Helped in this example of some brilliant music (Dear Mr Fantasy performed by Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood) by the overlap of the word fantasy – my favourite reading and writing genre (possibly my favourite word).

And what about the lyrics (below) – it’s a short story in its own right…

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy

You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these years

Written by Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Can music compliment a book like wine does food?

Food-Wine-ArtWe are often told which wine best complements food. Dry white suits fish, a full bodied red beautifully compliments a steak or a strong stilton cheese. In fact there are a surplus of experts on the subject out there, happy to enlighten us whether we want them to or not.

Not entirely dissimilar, I find that reading can be enhanced with the right music.

I once missed most of the world cup though it was on the TV in front of me. Shots went wide of goal posts, offside rulings frustrated fans, players dived melodramatically. But all the while I was engrossed in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series whilst playing Neil Young’s Decade double album on headphones. I was in another world and I still feel nostalgic about it now.

Today (world cup time again) it was a re-reading of an old classic by Michael Moorcock with my rock collection on random. But guess what came up and transformed a good read into a great atmospheric one? Cortez, Cortez, by Neil Young. Wonderful, in the setting of a hot evening in the garden, the scent of Philadelphus wafting occasionally over me, the beer having a nice relaxing effect… Bliss. Then I went in and watched England play. And lose. Ho hum.

So for me epic fantasy and guitar-based rock is like Aberdeen Angus and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

For others it may be a romantic tale with soothing classical music, or a crime novel with a stirring orchestral piece. Barry White for erotic stories?

Maybe readers of literary fiction prefer total silence? I have to say that would be dull, just like contemporary fiction with contemporary pop music, but hey, that may be just me…