Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Tune And The Pen

I have this view that music is everything.

It is in my blood. My family comes from a long line of musicians.  My dad was a professional drummer for many years for numerous bands, both on the road and in a studio. My uncle, dad's brother, was a guitarist of some renown in the New England area for a long time. Their mom (Grandma) was pianist who had taught children to play.  My mom and sister are singers. I myself dabbled in music as a youngster, playing in garage bands and was an occasional studio fill-in.

Music for me, is like breathing.  I feel like I am suffocating if I go too long without it.  It soothes the savage breast,  calms the soul of inner turmoil. You can get lost in it, tuning out the outside things you might not want to deal with at the time.


I appreciate all kinds of music, and in many of my short stories and screenplays, there is always an element of music. As I write this, I am listening to the lost tapes of Robert Johnson, a southern guitarist from a long ago era of Blues.

I am a fan of musical theater, more simply known as musicals. It combines the elements of dialogue, singing, and dancing.  I think writing one borders on genius.  Here the creator combines the talents of writer, songwriter, and choreographer.  I would to love to be able to come up something along the lines of Oklahoma!, West Side Story, Hair, Rent, and Phantom of the Opera. Maybe some day I get extremely lucky and write something that might halfway resemble those brilliant musicals.

As the title of this blog tells implies, I believe the type of music suggests the mood of most of my writes. Since I enjoy all types of music,  I might have Hard Rock or Rap if I am writing a angry piece or scene, a love ballad (insert insult here) if it a romantic scene or poem.  The Blues may be wailing through the speakers if I writing something melancholic, etc.

I also believe if you're writing something in some other time in history, listening to the music of that era helps your mind to settle into that period.  For example, if you're coming up with something set in the 1960's, then it helps to have a playlist of the artists of that time.  I have used this technique many times and it seems to work for me.

I think musical training helps with the craft of writing.  Both good music and good writing share a great sense of rhythm, melody, and harmony.  Rhythm in writing constitutes having a good, steady, natural flow to your style. Melody is writing is the appropriate word arrangement to match a particular rhythm. Harmony in writing is the internal sounds the brain picks up that support the words.  Have you ever read a book and seemed surprised that you read so effortlessly in a short time?  Probably it had good rhythm, melody, and harmony.

One final thought.  A musician could tell you that there are no new notes or chords he can create, but he can put a particular meaning to the one he chooses. That also goes for writing as well. A writer can give new meaning to ordinary words, giving them a special overtone that no one else will.  Keep this in mind and you'll be flourishing.

What else do you do while writing?

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