If you're like me, you love listening to music that adds dimension to the book you're reading. Fantasy novels, for some reason, seem to get way more mood and dimension if you're listening to the right music. That being said, getting the right soundtrack often boils down to genre.
Genres of fantasy music can span a huge range of different styles. Here are some of the most fantasy-friendly music genres out there, and why they will rule you.
This fantasy-friendly music genre is all about bringing fantasy into reality. This is the one genre of metal that you will feel totally comfortable rocking to at Renaissance fairs, primarily because it's always talking about knights, maidens, trolls, dragons, and other good stuff.
Expect to hear medieval-inspired melodies if you listen to this stuff. Oh, and you should also expect to feel like you need to grab a sword and some grog to complete your epic quest. Speaking of epic, this genre also goes by a lot of other names: epic metal and power fantasy metal - to name a few.
Favorite bands of this genre include Blind Guardian, Angra, and DragonForce.
Filk is one of those genres that is so incredibly geeky that it makes fun of itself. Though there's definitely a lot of filk that features fantasy-themed lyrics, in many cases, the people who make filk music tend to be ones who joke about programming, C++ algorithms, and Dungeons & Dragons, too.
This soft, slightly medieval-inspired genre focuses on acoustic guitars and vocals. Oh, and performers tend to switch off on each other like a rap battle if they hang out. They're called filkers.
Even so, it's perfect reading music.
Good choices of this music include Tom Smith, Julia Ecklar, and Leslie Fish.
You know how there's always that unique soundtrack playing in the back of major fantasy movies? It's ambient, not quite instrumental in the more classic sense, and possibly slightly electronic in nature? Ambient Soundscapes is the genre that music falls into.
Ambient Soundscapes are the downtempo, strangely relaxing tracks that make you get engrossed in fantasy plots, yet keep you relaxed at the same time. It's a perfect reading fantasy-friendly music genre, and awesome if you love to meditate.
Good selections from the Ambient Soundscapes realm include Vangelis, Adrian Von Ziegler, and Michele McLaughlin.
New Age Ambient
New Age Ambient, also known more commonly as just New Age, is that strangely spiritual, sometimes Celtic-sounding electronic music that is meant to be excellent for relaxing. There's something about this genre that just makes people feel like they're at home walking in a forest, possibly due to its unusually earthy vibes.
Because of the surreal yet natural-sounding beats that New Age Ambient offers, it's a clear winner in the world of fantasy. Good choices in this genre include Enya, Engima, and David Arkenstone.
Say what you will about gaming, but the world of videogames has produced some pretty darned incredible songs. Whether it's that one scene from Final Fantasy VII, or that surprisingly expressive excerpt from King's Quest V, it's easy to see why gaming soundtracks are worth a listen - even if your hands aren't on a controller.
Just looking up game soundtracks will give you a slew of different choices to pick from. We suggest the Final Fantasy series for a beginner.
Fantasy novels often bring characters to new worlds that are filled with magic and wonder. The funny thing about this is that you don't have to be a world music fan to have this happen. All you have to do is travel.
World Music is literally music that has a global vibe to it - or just plainly music that was composed in an obscure part of the world. That being said, the exotic vibes that World Music as a fantasy-friendly music genre offer really do make for excellent fantasy reading music. Good places to start would include Yanni, Jan Erik Noske, and Tinariwen.
Medieval Instrumental music isn't technically medieval, but is supposed to make you feel like it's from that area. An ever so slightly more upbeat version of New Age, Medieval Instrumental tends to be the kind of music that you would expect to see in a soundtrack for a Lord of the Rings remake.
Brandon Fiechter and the Dufay Collective are both good examples of this very relaxing but uplifting music choice.