While I'm actively writing, I need silence in the room so I can hear what my imaginary friends are saying. However, during the years it takes to complete a novel, there is always some sort of music I listen to obsessively. That music finds its way into the novels.

The Sparrow

I had no specific song in mind when Sophia Mendes and Emilio Sandoz sang their duet [The Sparrow, pp. 86-87], but here are examples of Ladino songs they might have been singing.

For those of you who speak Spanish, here is more on the Ladino dialect, which preserves the language of Spain in 1492 mixed with Hebrew.

Several years after The Sparrow was published, my uncle Fred Doria (of blessed memory) announced that he had discovered the alien music and poetry of Hlavin Kitheri, and I must agree.

Only about 30 second of the song is included in the Bladerunner, so it’s hard to catch unless you’re paying close attention, but this is the full cut. The title is Tales of the Future, composed by Vangelis. The singer is Demis Roussos, an ethnic Greek born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt.

While the song doesn’t match the description of the alien music in the book, there is something about the length of the lines and the shifting meter and harmony that is both unpredictable and immediately involving emotionally. That’s precisely the effect I imaged the alien song having while I was writing [The Sparrow, pp. 90-91].

While working on The Sparrow, I wore the oxide off a cassette of Van Halen’s 5150, and referenced it on page 309. “Alan Pace had given a great deal of thought to the music he would first present to the singers to represent human culture. The subtle mathematical joys of a Bach cantata, the thrilling harmonies of the sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor…

…the quiet evocative beauties of Saint-Saens, the majesty of a Beethoven symphony, the inspired perfection of a Mozart quartet… In the event, what Supaari heard was the rhythmic power, soaring vocals and instrumental virtuosity Van Halen’s arena rock masterpiece, 5150.”

The cut  is Best of Both Worlds.