Musical Inspiration – Modern Medieval by August Li – Guest Blog

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes August Li whose newest book The Kitchen Boy was released yesterday.

Musical Inspiration—Modern Medieval

Hello, I’m August (Gus) Li, author of The Kitchen Boy from Dreamspinner Press. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.

Today I’m talking about some of my musical inspiration for this and many, many of my books. My musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but I was a bit of a Goth back in the day, and by going to shows and clubs, I was introduced some pretty interesting style juxtapositions. My time working at Renaissance Faires introduced me to more music outside the mainstream. I’ve also been to a lot of pagan festivals and gatherings where I had the opportunity to enjoy music from different cultures that I would probably not have otherwise discovered: Celtic music, music from many different African cultures, indigenous music from all over the world, Middle Eastern music, Japanese…. It’s a long list. While it’s always an awesome experience to see any kind of music performed in its traditional state, I’ve also always enjoyed artists who borrow from different traditions and mix elements to create something new.

At the festivals I attended—and I’ve been attending them since I’ve been pretty young—there were always drums. People drummed all day and all night, and you could always hear the drums in the background. I got used to falling asleep hearing them, and after a longer festival, I noticed their absence when I left. It’s probably part of the reason I like music with a beat, why I gravitated more toward the industrial side of Goth music.

I’m also a fantasist—a great lover of creating fantasy and exploring the creations of others. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, I have more than a passing interest in history, and the medieval period is sort of the default (but certainly not the only) starting point for lots of fantasy worlds. I won’t get into the disparity between actual medieval life and the romanticized version many fantasy creators use; that’s a whole different post. But medieval and Renaissance music is beautiful. Gregorian chant is hauntingly beautiful, but it’s also somber—no beat.

I used to have a CD that was Gregorian chant with a sort of industrial beat to it. This was a while ago, and I don’t even remember what it was called, but it was the best thing. It’s uncanny how easily these seemingly opposite musical styles mix and how amazing a result is produced. For years now, one of my favorite genres of music has been what I call “Modern Medieval.” Here are some examples, though this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some of the best places to find artists performing in this style are Renn Faires and pagan festivals.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Qntal. Qntal is an electro-medieval band who draw most of their lyrics from historical source material, and perform in Latin, medieval Germanic, and various other languages. Gorgeous, gorgeous vocals.

Faun. Faun plays pagan folk and medieval music infused with industrial beats that sometimes veers toward metal. They also draw heavily on historical material and perform in a variety of languages. They play traditional instruments and have a large number of musicians and vocalists in the band. If you ever get the chance to see them perform live, it’s an extraordinary experience.

Mediaeval Baebes. An all-female vocal ensemble performing from medieval texts set to original scores, played on authentic medieval instruments and performed in a variety of ancient and obscure languages. It’s really like hearing angels sing.

Any other neo-medieval fans out there? This is a small genre, and I would love to see some recommendations.

Other sources for modern, medieval-inspired music are scores from games like Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls, or soundtracks from movies. What are your favorite places to find new music? What are your go-to bands for inspiration when reading or writing?

So that’s some of the music that inspired me, and here’s more information on the book.

4_5 augusta li KitchenBoyLGKitchen servant Yoli is one of only three men who know a carefully guarded secret about High Commander Koehen, the brilliant general who united their lands against a common invader. The enemy wants that secret, and they are willing to use either kindness or cruelty to obtain it.

Yoli must decide if his loyalties lie with the commander, who has shown him more affection than anyone in Yoli’s life, or with his own best interests. High Commander Koehen’s attention is capricious at best—he summons Yoli only when it is convenient for him, and Yoli knows there’s little hope of a future together. Is a glimmer of a hope for love worth sacrificing a chance for prosperity beyond his wildest dreams?

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press.


  1. Thanks for having me!

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