Friday, January 30, 2015

Music and the Soul of Your Writing

by Sarah Reichert

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” 
― Plato

Listening to music is an important part of my writing process.  It enhances my work, drives scenes, and deepens the emotional connection to my characters. I’d just completed my first draft of Fixing Destiny when Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” came out.

“I don’t like walking around this old and empty house. 
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you my dear.
The stairs creak, as you sleep, it’s keeping me awake. 
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes…

You're gone, gone, gone away, 
I watched you disappear
All that's left is a ghost of you
Now we're torn, torn, torn apart, 
there's nothing we can do,
Just let me go, we'll meet again soon”

Now, every time I hear that song, I feel like the emotions of my story were captured in the loss of the songwriter.  Even before I’d finished it, we understood one another.

Music plays a very important roll in human life. It has the power to connect us to one another through the empathetic nature of emotional exploration.  It’s a powerful tool that carries stories, conveys feelings, and expresses the highest and lowest moments of the human condition.

The bang of drums echoes the human heart.  From the bluesy low rumble of B.B. King to the high and powerful wail of Florence and The Machine, music resonates in our bones and makes our heads shake in shared understanding of loss and love. 

Music transcends race, generation, culture and socio-economics.  Music is universal.  

I’m from Detroit when immersed in the slamming affirmations of Eminem.  I’m a North Carolinian preacher’s daughter when Nina Simone feels good.  I’m a Black Crowe, I’m a Killer, I’m a Pretender and a Rolling Stone. I’m a swanky member of the Rat Pack and a raspy voiced Irishman inviting you to a Moondance. I thank God I’m a country boy and knock ‘em out with my American thighs.  Sam Cooke brings it on home to me.  The Beatles can’t buy me love but they can make me a paperback writer. St Paul and the Broken Bones call me, but Hozier takes me to church.  You can call me angel of the morning, or Ms. Jackson...if you’re nasty.

How does music factor in to your work? What are some of your favorite genres to write to or do you prefer silence?


RichardK said...

Music is an inspiration to me, and has been ever since I listened to my first our of Musicradio 77 WABC and WHTZ in New York. Songs regularly bring up memories, both good and bad. They also get repeated on my various music players. This is one of my favorites lately:

Dean K Miller said...

I seldom write without background music, mostly space/ambient instrumentals. I'll pick a piece to fit the mood I (or the story) matches. I'll pull story ideas from songs and pay attention to lyrics as they are really short stories in themselves. I wish to write lyrics someday, too. Each Monday on my site I post a short lyric snippet and the song/video of pieces I find interesting, useful, inspirational and moving.

April Moore said...

Love your montage! Music is a big part of my life, but when I'm writing, I tend to want silence. I used to listen to classical/instrumental music when I wrote (I wrote a short story while listening to a Craig Armstrong piano piece over and over and over. I hear that song when I read the story) but these days I find it's too distracting. Silence is golden.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Very nice post, Sarah. I love that song mashup.

I do my best thinking to music, but I'm one of those who needs silence to write. I think that's because the thinking goes on subconsciously while I'm bopping along, having fun with Cindy Lauper. Writing requires focus, at least for me. No bopping allowed....

Jenny said...

I love music (and many of the artists you listed, too) and have it on all the time when I'm not writing. When I am writing, I can and usually do listen to instrumental, but lyrics sidetrack my brain.

Great post!

Sarah Reichert said...

Thank you for all of your responses! I, too, think that lyrics can get in the way, especially when trying to write dialogue. I love hearing from you all :)

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