For me, "inspirational" music of this nature has always been (a) instrumental and (b) emotional and (c) in some way sweeping (often but not ALWAYS orchestral)
My CD collection, in fact,
...because I walked out of "Dragonheart" the movie absolutely determined to own that soundtrack - turned out I could only get it on CD, so I did - and then I had to go out and buy a CD player to play it on... this music:
Yes, I associate it with the damned dragon that I fell in love with (come ON. A dragon who shpeaksh like Sean Connery? What's not to love about it?) but from the first moment I heard it it was also something else, something far different and grander, and it touched some deep emotional core in me.
Movie soundtracks with similar emotional resonance are The Mission
(here chopped up a little to provide a "range" of the music, but it gives you an idea, anyway...)
and 1492: COnquest of Paradise, a movie which I hated almost everything about EXCEPT this piece of music (God bless Vangelis)
(Vangelis was also, of course, responsible for this:
War movies are particularly given to providing dramatic and heartwrenching soundtracks, to which you can create not so much teh gung-ho aspects of war but its pathos and its sheer, complete, utter, indescribable, incomprehensible waste. A selection:
TV series World At War:
TV Series mini-series Gettysburg:
Other music provides me with a quintessential sense of place. For instance, the main theme from The Ghost and The Darkness:
(listen particularly about 0:56 minutes into the clip - and hear, simply hear, the blessed width and expanse of the African sky open up above you as the music sweeps you up there)
The main theme of Out of Africa, the heavily romanticised version of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen's stories, is marginally place-y, but it does double duty as a romantic theme:
And, of course, the quintessential sad romantic movie theme of all time which always makes me tear up when I hear it - Hanover Street
Music paints pictures in my head, I experience a lot of it very visually, and I can close my eyes and "see" it - a literal soundtrack, with images unfolding in my mind as though I really was watching a movie. And after that it's just a matter of writing it down...
What images does music bring up in your own mind? The pieces I chose, or your own...?