Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Guest VJ Bruce Heard and The Calidar Soundtrack

Tonight is a very special night here at the Other Side.

I have +Bruce Heard  helping me out with the Guest VJ spot tonight.  He is sharing some of the songs and tracks that would make up a Calidar Soundtrack.

So without further ado, here is Bruce!
Hi, I’m Bruce Heard, the creator of Calidar, a game world inspired from the Voyage of the Princess Ark stories I used to write for Dragon Magazine in the 80s and 90s.  Some of you may remember me as the direction behind the D&D’s Mystara Gazetteers at old TSR.

I had a chat with Tim regarding Calidar and the Kickstarter campaign for my present project, “Beyond the Skies.”  It is a massive compendium about the gods of this universe, their shenanigans, and a monstrous peril plotting their doom.  Writing about this conjures a number of thoughts in my mind, among which music takes an interesting dimension.  During the past decade I developed an interest in movie scores.  Keeping with my focus on fantasy, sci-fi, action, and adventure, my tastes target certain titles particularly.

As a go through “Beyond the Skies,” the first that comes to my mind is Highlander’s “Who wants to live forever.”  This is especially true with the first part of the book, which describes the gods, their personalities, and their motivations.  It also alludes to Calidar’s epic heroes brought up in the first book, “In Stranger Skies.”  They stop aging as long as they qualify as epic heroes, their first step before aspiring to become demigods in the service of a divine liege.

There are of course the dwarven gods, and I had a good laugh when I described them as steampunk space warriors.  The best score for this, in my mind, was from Jerry Goldsmith, Star Trek’s Klingon Battle theme.  Kragdûras dwarves sound a bit like Klingons and pretty much behave like them.  They’re just shorter and hairier.  They don’t use dilithium but rather a kind of coal they mine on their moon.  So yes, they use steam-powered dreadnaughts.

Other fine neighbors are Calidar’s version of the Norse, best described as space Vikings who collect abandoned alien weapons.  With their giant longships, they hurtle through the “Great Vault,” raiding both known and lost worlds, in search of fortune and forbidden technology.  Another one from Jerry Goldsmith, “The Warriors” theme from the 13th Warrior truly seized the image for me.

Naturally, when talking about the gods of the Norse, my hand reached for Thor’s “Sons of Odin” theme from Patrick Doyle.  The deities portrayed in Calidar are alter-egos of those from real world mythology, and they know it!  These gods are aware that they ascended from the minds of mortals (who’d been abducted to Calidar from the real world), and they debate whether they should endorse traditional sagas or forge for themselves an entirely new fate.  Some believe that Ragnarok still hangs over their heads while others argue that it does not have to be so.

There is a section of “Beyond the Skies” that dwells upon the Dread Lands, Calidar’s giant living wilderness that fights off intruders.  It is connected to the planet’s World Soul, a semi-sentient pool of magic binding the souls of all sapient creatures to the worlds on which they were born.  For this, James Horner’s theme “Climbing Iknimaya, The Path to Heaven” from the Avatar movie was unavoidable.

The Calidar series feature a recurring skyship theme, as they draw their inspiration from the original Princess Ark stories, D&D’s idea of what Star Trek would be in a medieval high-fantasy world.  This led me to enjoy various Pirates of the Caribbean themes from “At World’s End,” especially Hans Zimmer’s “One Day,” a big favorite of mine.

Another score that I do like a lot is Klaus Badelt’s “Time Machine.”  The movie itself wasn’t immensely popular, but the music is great for an adventurer/explorer genre, especially the “Eloi” theme. This one reminds me of forgotten worlds and the nature-loving tribes dwelling in the Dread Lands.  Their secret is that they’ve learned to adapt to this monstrously dangerous place and tap into the magic of the World Soul.

In the genre of lost civilizations, another well know score works well, and is also a favorite of mine: David Arnold’s “Stargate.”  It does fit well in that Calidar has an ancient culture generally inspired from ancient Egypt.  Though part of it was conquered by another power, another escaped into space where its people attempt to regain their lost glory.  Ancient Egyptians in space—no doubt about it!

The topics are endless.  For Calidar’s Arabian-style setting, I relied on “The Mummy” with Jerry Goldsmith’s “Camel Race” theme.  This also connects with the ancient Egyptian setting mentioned earlier.  These two genres are directly related in Calidar.  Many others come to mind, such as Maurice Jarre’s classic Lawrence of Arabia main theme.

Then we have Calidar’s “bad guys,” at least from everyone else’s point of view.  The Nicareans are (very) loosely inspired from the early Byzantine with a strong strain of Spanish Inquisition-like behavior.  They are conquerors in their own right, and with them, when they march to war or line up their skyships for a fight in the Great Vault, it’s Vangelis’s “Drums of Gaugamela” from the “Alexander” motion picture that comes to my mind—huge, fearsome, glorious, and rousing!  It’s one that I play when I get discouraged or run out of steam.

This is turning into quite a long article, longer than I first expected, and I don’t believe I’ve made a dent in the pile of music that I can think of when writing for for this setting.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the elves of Calidar.  Their lunar empire of Alorea is more akin to a tree-hugging tyranny, somewhat like Star Trek Romulans turned totalitarian biologists, for which Hans Zimmer’s “The Battle” theme from the motion picture “Gladiator” works well.  Imagine a three way space battle between Nicareans, Kragdûras dwarves, and Alorean elves.  That’s an awful lot of drums!

The elves of Calidar’s main world, on the other hand, are much more peaceful, and their theme ends up being Howard Shore’s “Evenstar” composition, from Lord of the Rings’ “The Two Towers.”  We all know this one I’m sure, and it stands as a peaceful, friendly manner to part ways.  Hope you enjoyed this journey across fantasy, space, and popular movie scores.

Thanks Bruce! That is really an epic soundtrack.

Don't forget to check out his Kickstarter tonight as well.

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