Welcome to the first installment of my new blog post that I’m calling Story & Song. Each post will feature two pieces of music: a modern/contemporary song from the playlist of The Violinist of Venice, and a piece of Vivaldi’s music that features in the novel. I’ll describe how both pieces fit into the story with a minimum of spoilers!
As I’m sure I’ve said before, writing and music are inextricably linked for me. The Violinist of Venice is an obvious and literal example of this: the book deals mostly with music and its effect on a life, and includes musicians as its main characters. But even when I’m writing a story that doesn’t have any music at all (which doesn’t happen that often, to be honest) music is an integral part of my process. I have to listen to music when I write; it seems to unlock something in my brain. More than that, I am constantly building playlists for each novel that I work on, finding the perfect song for each scene and to describe what is happening in the lives of the characters. Sometimes listening to these songs gives me more insight into a situation or a character than I would have had otherwise. These playlists – while certainly fun to make – are helpful in another way too: I’ll load them onto my iPod and listen to the playlist of a work-in-progress while at work, or while exercising. This helps keep my head in the game, so to speak, and keeps my project on my mind and keeps me thinking and daydreaming about it when I can’t actually be working on it.
So I’m hoping that this Story & Song series can help give some insight into my creative process and inspiration for The Violinist of Venice, as well as introducing you to some of the beautiful and powerful music written by Antonio Vivaldi that appears in the novel.
Lacuna Coil – “Spellbound”
This song was the lead single off of Italian heavy metal band Lacuna Coil’s 2009 album, Shallow Life. You can read a little more about this album and its impact on The Violinist of Venice in this previous post. This album came out not long after I’d started writing the first draft of the novel, and “Spellbound” perfectly captured for me the attraction, interest, and tension that manifests between Adriana, my heroine, and Vivaldi in the first few chapters. The lyrics talk about – as you might expect – being spellbound, being unable to get someone out of your mind even when you’re not quite sure why. I tended to go for this song when writing/revising/reading through chapters four and five (chapter five is actually titled “Spellbound”, in a shout-out to this song).
Concerto for 4 Violins in B Minor, Op. 3, No. 10, I. Allegro
This is the most important piece of music – to me, anyway – that is described in the novel, specifically the first movement of the concerto. I first heard it not long after writing the first chapter of the book, and I fell absolutely in love with it right away. As such it made its way into the novel right away: this is what Vivaldi plays for Adriana (parts of it, anyway) at their first lesson in chapter two, when she asks to hear him play. He plays it again for her later on in the novel, and has a whole orchestra play it for her at an even later point.
To me, this piece of music is so lively, so passionate; but the fact that it’s in B minor gives it something of a hungry, desperate edge. It was perfect for the novel as a whole, as well as simply being a beautiful and powerful piece of music, one that I can (and have) listen to countless times and never grow tired of.