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The Heart of Making Magic – The Music

soundtrackI always listen to music as I write, so there is basically a soundtrack for each book when I finish. The connections of some songs to the story are obvious, others, not so much. But for Making Magic, music is the heart of the story. Jake Moser and Thea Woodruff are both musicians and music plays an extremely important role in the story. As a result, we have a rather extensive soundtrack for this one and I actually could not share them all. I picked the best examples for your enjoyment:

Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór Irish Folk Song – Christina Connell
This Celtic folk tune about a war between two fairy hills, one big and one small, was one of Pops Woodruff’s favorites. Jake Moser plays it during a certain wedding on the mountain. It is available from many different artists on many different instruments, but this is a hammered dulcimer version, much like Jake would play it.

The Enigma Variation IX Nimrod by Edward Elgar – Blow Up Fluit Octet
You will probably recognize this classical piece from many movie soundtracks and some state funerals. I searched high and low to find a piece that would reflect what happens in the story – the voice of a single silver flute floating above the trees. This YouTube video was about as close as I could come. Thea plays this for Pops and for Becca Moser. Whenever I hear this piece, it makes my throat close up. So beautiful and mournful.

Adagio in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni (Remo Giazotto) – Antonia-Katharina
Another classical piece that you will likely recognize is played beautifully here by Antonia-Katharina. I prefer James Galway, but his version is not available on YouTube. This is another piece that Thea plays in the woods to mourn for those she has lost. It is a piece that Jake knows quite well because Thea and his sister Becca, who played both classical violin and fiddle, performed it as a duet. That makes it all the more poignant when Jake hears Thea playing it.

Ashokan Farewell by Jay Ungar – James Galway & Phil Coulter
This piece shows up a couple of times in the story, once as Thea’s flute solo on the mountain and again performed at Patton Springs annual music festival with hammered dulcimer and flute. This version from YouTube probably provides the best idea of what that duet might sound like, substituting the dulcimer for the piano. It is a lovely piece which may be familiar as the theme for the PBS miniseries “The Civil War”.

A Stór Mo Chroí Irish Folk Song – Markus Asunta
Another Celtic folk tune that can be found in many different guises, the most well-known being Bonnie Raitt’s version with The Chieftains. It means “Treasure of my Heart” and has lovely lyrics, but for our characters it is an instrumental. This version is probably close to the way Thea sounds on the mountain. although this is a wooden flute. It’s makes for an atmospheric YouTube video as well. Enjoy.

Drowsy Maggie/Toss the Feathers – Irish Reel – The Corrs
These two pieces are often played together and always make you want to get up and DANCE! It was a favorite on the playlist of “Appalachian Synchrony” consisting of some talented young people – Jake Moser on the hammered dulcimer, Eric Moser on the bodhrán (the drum), Becca Moser on fiddle, and Thea Woodruff on the tin whistle.

Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord in B Minor, III Presto Johann Sebastian Bach – Jean-Pierre Rampal on the flute
Believe it or not, this particular piece is a favorite duet of Jake and Thea. They played it together when they were younger, with Jake’s hammered dulcimer standing in for the harpsichord. The audience at an Appalachian music festival wouldn’t exactly expect this kind of music, but they are always impressed when these talented musicians pull it off!

Tripping Up the Stairs – Irish Jig – Karl Ahrens
I included this lovely jig to show you how a talented musician can turn a simple ocarina into an instrument that will make you get up and dance a jig. Thea plays this tune for a couple of young folks to “test drive” an ocarina. Jake and his band play it again at the festival on their instruments.

Whiskey Before Breakfast – Irish Reel – Fire in the Kitchen
I included this one because it shows you the type of venues where a little group like “Appalachian Synchrony” or Jake’s current group “Songs in the Wood” would play. Although the music festival at Patton Springs is much bigger than the one shown here, the feel is similar. Excuse the video quality.

Lover’s Waltz – Jay Ungar and Molly Mason – Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (piano and fiddle)
Lover’s Waltz – Steve and Ruth Smith (hammered dulcimer and flute)
I had to share this performance of “Lover’s Waltz” by the performers who wrote it (Jay Ungar and Molly Mason) on the instruments it was written for (piano and fiddle), because it is absolute perfection. The snippet that I included from Amazon is performed with hammered dulcimer and flute rather than piano and fiddle. And that is the way that Jake and Thea’s duet would sound. Unlike Jay on his fiddle, Thea would probably be waltzing around the dulcimer with her flute.

Kokopelli Wandering Song – Native American Songs – Robert Tree Cody
Sweetheart Calling Song – Native American Songs – Robert Tree Cody
Love Song – Native American Songs – Robert Tree Cody
Lakota Love Song – Robert Tree Cody
These three lovely songs play an important role in the book, as you can imagine just by the titles. They are played on a traditional Native American wooden flute. The YouTube video is a different song from the same musician, but it gives you an idea of what an entire melody sounds like. Imagine these pieces playing on a misty summer morning in the woods of Woodruff Mountain on a wooden flute carved by Jake Moser.

Since most of these are on YouTube, I created a Making Magic Soundtrack playlist over there instead of on Amazon. I hope you enjoy!

Mostly Magic Soundtrack


Like many authors, while I write I listen to music. It helps me to focus and it also helps to supply background and emotion to the story I’m writing. So I tend to construct a “soundtrack”, adding entire albums, then ruthlessly deleting songs when I find my writing flow stuttering, until I have the perfect soundtrack that just seamlessly weaves itself around the story and settles in around my writing, pushing the action, ramping up the tension, or resolving it. In addition, music often pops up in the actual story itself. Eventually, I have a list of songs that could be considered a soundtrack. It may be ten songs, it may be four, and some may play on a continuous loop as I pound out a given scene.

I lean toward Celtic songs or soundtrack music and many of the songs fit my Appalachian setting. However, when it comes to love scenes, I’m afraid my own life tends to elbow in. In most cases when I am writing a love scene, my fall back is Italian love songs, in Italian, because my husband loved to sing to me. In this particular case, it was a perfect match for the characters and the setting. See what you think:

This Woman’s Work – Kate Bush
This one is the perfect, poignant background to Daniel’s repeated dreams about losing his future wife and their unborn child in the ER.

The Prophecy and The Vision – Mychael and Jeff Danna
These two atmospheric Celtic pieces from the wonderful album “A Celtic Tale: The Legend of Deirdre” are exactly the right backdrop to any of Daniel’s visions or his somber recollections of those visions, including the tense, and dangerous, confrontation at the end of the book after his vision on the mountain.

Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky-Korsakov
This ring tone of Daniel’s is the first hint that, beneath his constant air of dread, there is the strong soul of a survivor with a sense of humor about himself.

Going Home – Mary Fahl
For me, this is my ultimate “coming home to the mountains” song. When I hear this, I see the blacktop winding away ahead of me into a tunnel of trees and I have a wave of homesickness. Mary Fahl’s voice is incomparable. (If you want to try something else of hers, almost everything she sang with October Project is a keeper and is on one soundtrack or another of mine.)

Con Te Partiro – Andrea Bocelli
Ah yes! This one answers the question “What exactly was Ouida listening to when Nick introduced her to Bocelli?” What Daniel mistakes for opera from the brief snippet he hears, is actually not opera at all. Ouida was listening to “Romanza”, the album that introduced Bocelli to America. If you haven’t listened to his unique, romantic voice, you have got quite a treat coming.

Dreamgift – Spencer Brewer, Eric Tingstad, and Nancy Rumbel
Trying to capture Mel Noblett in a song is an interesting challenge. I imagine it is because she is always moving, always ephemeral. The sweet sound of a flute wrapped around a song to dance to is perfect for her, along with the name of this particular tune. Tingstad and Rumbel are mainstays in my writing soundtrack.

Meraviglioso – Domenico Modugno
This popular tune is one example of the kind of music that Mel’s father remembers enjoying in Italy when he first managed to visit his family. And Nick’s grandfather likely played the same tunes. So when Nick plays real Italian music that Mel recognizes, this is likely the kind of thing he plays. This one in particular has appropriate lyrics for the story, reminding the singer of all the “wonderful” things in the world that he has been unable to see – “The love of a woman that loves only you. Wonderful. The light of a morning, the embrace of a friend, the sight of a child.”

Per Te – Josh Groban
The gorgeous Italian love songs that Josh Groban selected for his very first album are favorites of mine for love scenes, but for this love scene, there was no better song than “Per Te” from his “Closer” album. Some of the lyrics will show you why – “Tell me that you already know the future. Tell me that this is not the end. Without you I don’t want to exist. For you, for you, I’ll live. Love will win. With you, with you, I’ll have a thousand happy days, a thousand peaceful nights.” Perfection.

More Than Magic Soundtrack

shutterstock_24707608Some of my favorite music is soundtrack music. While most people are paying attention to the story on the screen, I’m mentally noting that the music is really making an impact on how that story is received. Invariably, on hearing my favorite pieces, people comment “Where have I heard that? I know that music from somewhere.” To me, that’s the sign of a good soundtrack.

And when I write, I construct a soundtrack, adding entire albums, then ruthlessly deleting songs when I find my writing flow stuttering, until I have the perfect soundtrack that just seamlessly weaves itself around the story and settles in around my writing, pushing the action, ramping up the tension, or resolving it. It may be ten songs, it may be four, and some may play on a continuous loop as I pound out a given scene. But as you peruse my list, having read the book and checking my clues I hope you can figure out where some of the pieces go.

I will make one admission. Although, obviously, most of the songs fit my Appalachian setting, when it comes to love scenes, I’m afraid my own life tends to elbow in. In most cases when I am writing a love scene, my fall back is Italian love songs, in Italian. . . because my husband loved to sing to me.

Going Home by Mary Fahl – Gods and Generals soundtrack – I hear this whenever anyone is driving up Woodruff Mountain road toward the farm.

Valley of the Shadow by Thomas Newman – Little Women soundtrack – This one plays whenever Grace thinks of her Pops.

I Will Find You by Clannad – The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack – When Grace understands what she has to do to save Nick and proceeds to do it, I hear this in the background.

The Kiss by Trevor Jones – The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack – This is the accompaniment for Grace running on, and beneath, the mountain.

Cora by Randy Edelman – The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack – I hear this one when Grace finds Nick at last, and “fixes” things.

Pieces of a Story by Randy Edelman – The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack – With that lovely echoing flute and spooky feel, when do you think this fits?

Gira Con Me Questa Notte by Josh Groban – Josh Groban – If you can’t figure this one out. . .

Under the Umbrella by Thomas Newman – Little Women soundtrack – And there are no umbrellas needed for this scene, only stars falling.