Saturday, April 25, 2009

Music and Writing

Posted by Laurie Alice for Kathye Quick, who is having some technical difficulties

When I first thought about submitting to Avalon, I knew the emotions of the characters had to be expressed more deeply in the words because of the PG-13 rating.

But how can we as writers put on paper an emotion or reaction to a situation we have never fully experienced and still make it viable to the reader? Love, hate, fear, passion, sadness. I think I can safely say we all have gone through something in life and have felt these basic emotions to some degree. But we write about so much more – Revenge, betrayal, terror, unrequited love, abandonment, ecstasy, rapture. How can we experience these at the time we need to write about them?

Enter music.

Using music, we can experience emotion almost on an as-needed basis.
Music is a powerful medium to express and experience emotion. It recreates aspects of lives that are recognizable and can be experience to some degree just by listening. By recreating patterns associated with human emotion, it recreates the emotion. Then listening, we are able to grasp the emotional content, and react emotionally to it. As an embodiment of the emotion, we are able to perceive it directly.

For instance, a piece of music may be quick moving, expressing energy, purposefulness, or excitement. When we listen to a piece like that, more often than not, we can feel the emotion. And when we feel the emotion, we are more able to put it down on paper in a way that can be felt and experienced through our writing.

I know you all have a particular song that makes you cry, or gets you to remember certain periods in your life. Now let’s take those songs and stash them in the USB drive in your mind. When necessary, hit the play button and use them next time you get stuck in a scene that is flat and lacking the emotional response you need to get the reader to turns those pages.

I’ve listed a few of my favorite songs that help get me from blank page to emotional genius. Well, maybe not genius; maybe just not one dimensional.

Here goes –
Abandonment - ¬I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones
Loving someone from afar – Invisible by Clay Aiken
Pain of Loss – Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton
Love – Let Me Love You –Tim McGraw
Passion – Keep Coming Back - Richard Marx
Intense Attraction – Touch of Heaven – Richard Marx
Despair – Unbreak my Heart – Toni Braxton
Lost Love - Even Now - – Barry Manilow
Questioning your Heart – Measure of a Man – Clay Aiken
Losing a Love – Somewhere Down The Road – Barry Manilow
The First Time – Somewhere in the Night – Barry Manilow
Unrequited Love - – Melody for a Memory – Hall and Oates
Hopelessness – What About Now – Daughtry (Chris Daughtry)
Regret – I Go Crazy – Paul Davis

When you have time, take one of your favorite songs and listen for the emotion. Tag it, bag it, and save it for an emergency. You’ll be glad you did!


Elisabeth Rose said...

So true, Laurie Alice!
As a musician I can't imagine a life without music. It amazes me when people say they never listen to anything. What a colourless existence that must be. We have music in our house all the time--husband is a jazz drummer, I'm a classical clarinettist. The children grew up with music all around them so it's no wonder one's a professional bass player and the other's an avid listener.

I have a vast playlist in my computer which I've graded into 'Mood' and 'General' for when I write. I can't write when someone is singing though--I find it distracting so most of the 'mood' program is instrumental--everything from Bach to Keith Jarrett.

Elisabeth Rose said...

Sorry Kathy! I just now realised that was your post. Good one!

I.J. Parnham said...

That was fascinating. I guess we're all different as I'm the complete opposite. I'll listen to music, but when writing I like to be as quiet as possible and alone with my thoughts. Admitedly I have Van Gogh's ear for music, but for me so much of life is filled with noise that it's so nice to do something that's quiet (other than tap tap tappety-tap) where I can listen to myself think.

Having said that I've just realized while writing (quietly) that I'm a bloke and we blokes can't multi-task. We have to do one thing at a time, so for me it's writing or listen to music but never both.

Kathye Quick said...

Laurie has been an asngel getting me to understand how to post, Next time I think I can do it.

Thanks Laurie

Sandy Cody said...

Thanks for sharing that, Kathye. When I listen to music, I get totally caught up in the mood of the song, but I don't listen to anything when I writing. My stories always happen first in my head, with me listening to the characters talking to each other. I'm not sure how background music would affect that. Maybe to the good. I'll have to give it a try.

Beate Boeker said...

I have to have quiet all around me too when I write, Ian and Sandy! Music distracts me too much . . . and it changes quicker than I write . . . Just when I enter into that sad, sad world, the beat changes and I have to quickly stop the song, or my feelings and my writings all go in the wrong direction. But I love the way music can pick you up and make you stronger. "I did it my way" comes to mind. Love that song. Every time. I listened to a particular song by French singer Patricia Kaas at a sad period in my life, and my mood still plummets whenever I hear it.
I copied out your list, Kathye, and will try to hunt up those songs! Thank you for sharing them!

Carol Hutchens said...

I've tried the 'writing to music' thing, but I need 'quiet' to hear the voices in my head...a share really. I love Barry M., Elvis...

Thanks for reminding us to listen to our favorites!

Christine Bush said...

ahhh, yes! Music is key.. and for me, a certain kind of lighting..and usually a candle burning nearby... Thanks for these good thoughts, Kathye, fellow Barry fan!!!

Jane Myers Perrine said...

Kathye--you obviously write much deeper books than I do. If I listen to music, I start with JEREMIAH (was a bullfrog) to get me ramped up to write. Usually I don't listen. I, like Carol,prefer quiet so I can hear the voices in my head. But I love having my cats near so I can pet one when I'm stuck.