I had a fun discussion with some girlfriends earlier this week about movie soundtracks, and our favorite movies. No surprise that mine are almost all historicals, complete with sweeping soundtracks, lots of fiddle music, often with a Celtic strain. It’s the music that transports me to the 18th century mountain frontier, and what I listen to in the car when I’m scene-weaving and dreaming up plot turns, or listening to my characters’ urgent voices.

Topping my list of favorites are the soundtracks from:

Dances With Wolves, music by John Barry
Last of the Mohicans, music by Trevor Jones with the haunting ballad I Will Find You, by Clannad 
Braveheart, music by James Horner
The Two Towers, music by Howard Shore (especially the Rohan theme, with its gorgeous Norwegian Hardanger fiddle weaving a haunting strain throughout… yes, I rather like haunting music. I flirted briefly with the idea of learning to play a Hardanger fiddle after first seeing the film. Very briefly.).

A movie I recently watched for the first time, The Journey of August King (Jason Patric and Thandie Newton), based on the book of that title by John Ehle, was set and filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina (home of my heart). It has a gorgeous soundtrack by Stephen Endelman that I don’t own, but would like to if only it was available. I’ve yet to find it, but since I own the movie I can at least hear it from time to time.

Other music that puts me in the right mindset for writing my 18th century stories is a haunting (again with the haunting!) and inspiring book/CD package called No Man Can Hinder Me, The Journey from Slavery to Emancipation through Song, by Velma Maia Thomas. There are songs on this album that I cannot listen to without weeping, even after years of hearing them. They are powerful, evocative and raw. Some of these songs have inspired scenes I’ve written, especially in my novel Kindred.

And Music of the American Colonies, by Anne and Ridley Enslow. Many of these songs were completely new to me, some of them political, some of them humorous, some highly educational. One of them, Anna, is played on Benjamin Franklin’s invention, the glass armonica. And yes, it is a haunting sound. And very beautiful.

There are so many Colonial and Early American inspired collections out there. I’d like to sample a few, but would love to know your favorites first. Or are there other movie soundtracks that transport you to the 18th (early 19th century is fine too!) century? Please share them in the comment section.

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