Well, September is both National Classical Music month and National Piano Month. Since Raven plays piano and listens to classical music, I though it would be a good time to talk about music as a tool for creating a multi-dimensional character.
Since I mentioned my protagonist from the Ravensblood series, let’s look at him first. It’s funny the tricks your subconscious plays on you. When I first mentioned that Raven could play the piano, it was a quick, throw-away line, Cassandra thinking bitterly that Raven knew how to play her like he knew how to play his baby grand. But it got a little more mileage in the novella Raven’s Song (Ravensblood 1.5*, set between Ravensblood and Raven’s Wing) Raven had not been able to play in the years he had been in hiding with the dark mage William, the master he eventually betrayed. Raven’s struggle to re-learn piano parallels his struggle to re-integrate into society. In Raven’s Wing, an insomniac Raven has a heart-to-heart with Mick MacLean that establishes what will become an important source of emotional support for him later in the novel. And in Raven’s Heart, the reestablishment of Raven’s relationship with the piano teacher of his youth is an indication that he is ready to fully put his past as a dark mage behind him.
Raven loves symphony and opera. Not only does this underline the fundamental old-world nature of his character, but it gave me a opportunity for little side interactions with other characters. For example, Cassandra likes symphony but not opera. Because of this, Raven makes his first Mundane friend, a book store owner who plays chess and attends opera with him. Raven’s dislike and distrust of technology wars with his desire to listen to classical music on the stereo. Cassandra’s former partner, self-proclaimed geek mage Chuckie, writes detailed instructions and posts them next to Raven’s stereo system and labels the ‘on’ button with a Post-it note. He’s trying to convince Raven to try Pandora with the promise of all-classical and all-opera channels.
Of course, I am not the first person to use music as a way into character. The violin humanizes Holmes, giving him an artistic side to warm the cold logic. Tolkien is brilliant at creating very different styles of song for each of his races. Don’t believe me? Contrast the light-hearted, clever ballads the hobbits sing with the elegant, graceful songs of the elves. And to go a little more pop culture, can you imagine Tony Stark/Iron Man without his heavy metal.
What other examples can you name?
*Lest anyone go crazy looking for Raven's Song, it is not currently available but will be soon. It was originally part of the no-longer-available anthology Here be Magic and will soon be released as a separate novella.
Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines. Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul. You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website ( ). You can friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts an amazing array of geekery. Shawna has on occasion been found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her.