Ask Misty Archive - Music

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Q: Here's a question about the Valdemar CDs. Do you write the songs? My Mom said that you did, and that you even sang in one of them. Is that true, and if so, which one? I'd be really interested in listening to it. We have most of the CDs and we're going to get Sun and Shadow when it comes out. I love the songs about Sunsinger and Shadowdancer.

About the Grove Companions... I'm sure you've gotten this question a million times, but I can't find it on the Q&A, so... What are the four Monarch's Own? I mean, three of them are mentioned (I'm going by what my Mom told me, I haven't read all of them, since I'm still in Jr. High and have to read books for school) and one of the books said there were four. We're a bit confused about that.

One more question, I promise this is the last one. You made a sort of forum for the Lammas Night story, right? A collection of different authors' versions based on the song? I was wondering... Are you going to do something like that again with another song or whatever?

Thanks for your time.

A: I've written some of the song lyrics on the Valdemar CDs; I wrote all of them on the first couple, and on the later ones, other artists have taken over. I sung the part of Selenay on "Heralds, Harpers and Havoc." I haven't yet come up with the names of two of the four Monarch's Own Companions yet. As for the Lammas Night anthology, that was the idea of the person who is the editor on that anthology, rather than mine. I couldn't tell you if they plan to do any more like it.


Q: I'm a longtime fan, etc, etc, and at a recent feast a small local Celtic/filk/folk trio sang a song called "Battle Raven" which I instantly loved. I did some netsearching and according to Siobhan's Bard book (, it's one that Misty has written. It's certainly great enough to be one of hers! What I would like to know if there are any recordings of this song, either on one of her filk albums (most of which I have), or by some other source. Any help would be vastly appreciated. Thanks! :) A: Huh. First time someone has ever claimed I wrote a song that someone else wrote. Not mine. Bizarrro.

Q: I'd love to find the actual songs for two lyrics I found if they are legitamit: "The Hero of Stony Tor" and "Condemnation". Is there anyway I can find these songs (legally)? Here is a link to the lyrics if you have no clue what I'm talking about:

"The Hero of Stony Tor":
On a side note, I absolutely love your books! Keep up the great work!

A: Both these songs are filk-lyrics, probably created by the owner of the webpage you found them on. This is one of the classic forms of filk (a kind I've done myself) where you write songs about the characters of books or movies that you like. As to where you find them legally, well, you HAVE found them legally if they are indeed created by the author/owner of that webpage or were put there with the author's permission. Probably the music these lyrics are sung to are popular songs of some sort---the cadance of the second one suggests, off the top of my head, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" sung by Barbara Streisand. The short form here is that there is a lot of filk out there, too much for me to keep track of it much less who wrote what. Here you will have to do your own detective work.

Q: There are lots of your songs posted on Napster, are these legit? A:I understand that there are a lot of my songs posted on Napster. For therecord, I'd like to say right now that I think downloading small-press musicis a pretty wretched and disgusting thing to do. Why? Well, first of all,the people who have uploaded it in the first place have done so for the solepurpose of attempting to hurt me (big old rich mean Misty Lackey) and hurtFirebird (big old rich mean Firebird). I'll admit to being mean onoccasion, and I'm definitely old, but I can tell you right now, not only amI not rich, but we're running on a pretty strained budget. Yes, theramen-noodles and mac-and-cheese kind of budget. Why do you think I'mtrying to get help for Irene Pepperberg by making things and posting them inan auction? Because I don't have the money to spare to help her outright!So, guess what, if you download this stuff instead of buying it, you arehelping the people who are trying to hurt me. Thanks a bunch. Justremember that there is such a thing as karma, and I hope it gets you at theworst possible time.

As for 'big old rich mean Firebird'---well, Firebird is in the position ofevery other small-press entity. They are just barely holding on and everysingle sale counts. And if you keep downloading their stuff for free, youare going to run them out of business. Which means---guess what?---NO MORENEW MUSIC. Because no one ELSE is goinng to record new music when the samemean-spirited people are going to upload it to Napster. So unless youreally get into bad recordings of half-drunk filkers made live with tinylittle Korean microphones and cassette players at conventions, you'd betterrethink things before you hit that 'download now' button.

There is, of course, the legal issue---called 'intellectual propertyrights'---which says that it's just as illegal for you to take the productof my mind (that I need to be able to sell to make a living) as it would befor you to walk into my house and steal something. It's more than justillegal---it's wrong, it's vicious, and it's disgusting. We've never doneanything other than try to make people happy with what we do---so why aresome people trying to hurt us like this? Keep it up, and I'll have to stopwriting books and go back to programming computers, and there will be nomore good recordings of some pretty cool music. There are some people I amsure who would be very happy if I did that---not the least because they havealways been jealous that I succeeded and are vicious, mean-spirited,vindictive, and spend all their time trying to think of ways to somehow 'geteven with me' because I worked hard and put every single waking moment intotrying to become a decent writer instead of spending my time playingpolitics and planning revenge.

I hope that's clear enough.

Firebird: While I don't have quite Misty's way with words, the feeling is the same. Honest, margins on small lable music are tiny. When a song gets played on the radio, or broadcast in any form, royalties are paid to the songwriters. Royalties are paid to singers, songwriters, and other musicians on every CD sold. If you take your copy of a CD and load it into Napster, while royalties have been paid on that CD, anyone that downloads songs cheats the singers, songwriters, and musicians out of their money. It also is likely to cost Firebird sales of those albums.

Who cares? Well for one the people who get paid royalties care. Musicians don't make lots of money, and even small royalty checks matter. Think how you would feel if some stranger took away a weeks pay? So please think before downloading the next song from Napster.

Q: This is in response to a posting on rec.filk where someone who had set lyrics writen by Mercedes Lackey to music claimed to be able to give permission to publish both the lyrics and music.

A: Official statement:As anyone who knows anything at all about music copyright is aware, themusic and lyrics of a song are copyrighted separately, each to the personresponsible for the music or the lyrics. That's only fair, after all; thereare any number of cases where a sufficiently creative person has taken themusic he has written to one song with lyrics that didn't work out, re-setthe music with new lyrics, and made a hit out of it. Why on earth shouldthe person who wrote the good tune have to share his profits with someonewho wrote dud lyrics?

And there have been cases where someone has taken lyrics that had been setto so-so tunes and recast them successfully---not as often, mind, but it hashappened, and why should someone who wrote great lyrics share his profitswith an idiot who couldn't put a tune together to save his soul?

The point of this is that for MY songs, MY lyrics, which I did not, ever,write in collaboration with ANYONE much less the unknown filker, are copyrighted toME. Not the unknown filker. She has no right to them. She never contributed tothem. They are my creative property, not hers, and I do not choose to havethem posted on boards all over the Internet.

She is perfectly free to go and write her own lyrics and post them, but notto steal mine.

I can only wonder why she wants to.....

Q: Besides saying I love all your books (I have every one I can get my fingers on) I particularly love your adaptations of fairy tales.
I just read a couple of related Russian fairy tales that don't seem to get much treatment in the west. They are "The Mistress of the Copper Mountain" and "The Stone Flower". The latter is the better, although the version that Prokofiev used for his ballet was a bit stalinized. These tales have some interesting twists, including the plucky girlfriend who rescues her overly-artistic fiance from the Mistress of the Copper Mountain. Since you handle other tales so well, I was wondering if these might appeal to you?
A: Actually, I've already considered both of those and will probably get aroundto them at some point---also "The Little Humpbacked Horse" as well. Ihaven't even touched Baba Yaga yet, and if there's a wierder villian in theuniverse I have yet to see it/him/her!

Q: My question I would hope can be answered simply by Misty. I am currently involved in re-in acting the renaissance period at the PA Renaissance Fair. My question is this, Have you and/ or Larry ever acted in one of these festivals as your character Eric Banyon does in Bedlam's Bard? Thank you for your time. A: Larry was never an actor at a RennFaire.

My co-writer Ellen Guon was a member of one of the Celtic groups for years,working both the Southern and Northern California Faires. I hung out withthe group for a single day---lots of fun, that, even if I was completelyinept at the bodhran and bones.

I worked the King Richard's Faire in Gurnee Illinois with the Chicago SCAgroup for several years; I did chirugeon (medic) duty for the group andalternated my usual Scots persona with an evil sorceress, because the Fairewizard needed a bad guy now and again. I usually lured away his apprenticeand he had to rescue the poor lad.

Q: I was reading through your answers on the FAQ page, and noticed that several times you stated that you had nothing to do with creating the various tapes and CDs that come out. That sometimes Firebird had something on the burner, but you knew nothing about until it came out. Does this mean that you do not write some of the songs, or do you just write lyrics at random, and Firebird picks and chooses from those, finding appropiate performers? A: Both!
I have written lyrics as I felt the urge and just sent them to Firebird,and Firebird has also put together tapes of other peoples' work inspiredby the books. I personally feel that the latter is very fitting andflattering, since that was how I started as a writer in the firstplace---writing lyrics inspired by OTHER sf/f writers' works!

Albums are produced in an assortment of ways, it depends on who is available, what lyrics from Misty we have, or what songwriter is inspired by a book. I'll consult with Misty about voices--what does a particular character sound like, and do the best job possible to match character and vocalist. We did the first Valdemar album in 1986--14 years ago, and lots has changed over that time, including Misty's time for writing lyrics. To be fair, she makes lots more money writing books than she is ever going to make penning lyrics.
The current project Owlflight, was turned over to Michael Longcor, and he wrote 12 songs over the course of a year. Two additional songs were added by Cecilia Eng. Michael was selected for the project for a couple of reasons. First and most important, he's a great songwriter, takes the music seriously, and knows enough about Valdemar to write accurate songs. Second, the main character is an adolescent male, ( and Michael who will never admit that he wrote and performed the adolescent angst songs on the Owlflight album) ... lets just say that he's in touch with his inner child.
With six albums of his own, he's a good studio musician, and given that he lives in Indiana, and we are in Portland, he was able to fly to Oregon, do a concert (which got turned into Field of Fire album) then spend a week locked in a recording studio singing, then do a concert at a SF convention before going home. Did I mention he has great stamina? This is a schedule that not many people would even dream of attempting.

Q: Are you planning on any music Cassettes for the Winds, Storm, andGryphon Books? 5/10/99
A: Again, I am not the party responsible for the creation of the musicprojects; that would be Teri Lee of Firebird Arts and Music. Igenerally don't know what she's got on the boil until the soup is ready!
Firebird: Owlflight is just ready to mix! Should be about a week or so in post-production (mixing, mastering, assorted processing. Once the master is finished, it will go off to the pressing plant, don't know when the CD's will be back. This is a bad time of year to manufacture CD's.
Most of the songs have been written for a Winds album, but this will be recorded down the line.

Q: hello, my name is kyla i was recently surfing on the web and came across the dream warrior: kyla's journey i think that is the title but anyway, i just wanted to know when this was made i was born in 1980, my mother was going to name me jennifer but she was reading a novel about a viking warrior princess whose name was kyla we have been looking for that book for a very long time now if you didn't write it, do you know anything about a book like that?
A: The Dream Warrior project was co-written with the musician DavidArkenstone (a fantastic musician, by the way) for his album; the mainplot and all of the names were his, so I don't know if he ever saw thebook you are looking for.

Q: Are there ever going to be more songbooks?
A: This is a Firebird question rather than one for Misty. The songbooks are expensive to produce, and don't sell quite as well as the tapes and CD's. They are also very time and skill intensive.
The next songbook out the door will be Shadow Stalker. After that, perhaps the Oathbound/Oathbreakers, or Owlflight.
The other question we get asked is if the songbooks include piano music or harp music. The songbooks include lyrics, melody line, and guitar chords. Guitar chords are essentialy the left hand part for either piano or harp. For example, everywhere a Am guitar chord notation shows up, play the notes in the Am chord with the left hand. Good luck and happy music making.

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