These past two weeks, my wife and I have been avoiding people, newspapers and work during a long-awaited vacation, which started in Boise and wound through Seattle and down the coast to San Francisco.

I'm still trying to retrain myself how to type and answer phones.

Although I did avoid our technological trappings, I couldn't keep away from music.

Naturally, we took a bunch of our favorites — Rush, Van Halen, George Winston, Tingstad & Rumbel, Lyle Lovett and a few Japanese Animation soundtracks, just to name a few. And they fit our moods as we drove that ribbon of highway.

My biggest musical discovery, however, was in Seattle. My brother-in-law and his roommate served as our tour guides during our stay. We walked all over that city and loved every minute of it. As we passed a music store called Lark in the Morning, I had to stop and peer into the window.

What I saw took my breath away: instruments of all sizes and shapes hung from the ceiling and littered the floor. There were tin whistles, Native American flutes, pan pipes, dumbeks, gaidas, bodhrans, banjos, mandolins, jar hus, tablas, kotos, bagpipes, ocarinas, tongue drums, marimbas, Celtic harps, hurdy gurdys, dulcimers, musical saws, violins and many more exotic music makers.

It was a musicians' dream store.

Then my better half pointed out a window display that took me inside the store — an ad for a CD called "The Masterharper of Pern."

Author Anne McCaffrey has combined science fiction and fantasy into one with her "Dragonriders of Pern" novels. She has also written smaller books about lesser characters in those stories. And one such book is titled "The Masterharper of Pern."

The CD claimed to be a soundtrack to that book.

The story surrounds a master musician — a masterharper named Robinton who uses songs to teach the people of the planet Pern about their history and culture.

I asked the store clerk about it and she had nothing but good things to say about the album, which was recorded by multi-instrumentalists Mike Freeman and Tania Opland. The two hail from England and Alaska, respectively, and they have created a soundtrack that fits the style of the world McCaffrey has created with her writings.

Unlike Robert Berry's "A Soundtrack for 'The Wheel of Time: Music Inspired by Robert Jordan's Best Selling Series,' " "The Masterharper of Pern," originally released in 1998, is everything I expected.

There were no progressive-rock riffs or over-the-top arrangements. Instead, the album caught the acoustic Celtic-based flavor one would expect in a world of flying dragons, fall festivals and time-travel. And having McCaffrey, herself, listed as executive producer only validated the work.

In fact, now I can't wait to delve back into McCaffrey's world of Pern.


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