The Magic’s in The Music   17 comments

Being that I’m something of a complete musicphile, (I have, and listen to, everything from Alice Cooper to Vangelis), and that my last post dealt with imagery; it would be remiss of me not to blog about a very powerful aid to storytelling. Music. At least I find it to be the case.

The power of music over human beings is well documented, and pretty much universal. Which is why Hollywood makes such extensive use of it. How much more emotion is put into that love scene with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan when the soft romance tune is playing in the background? How much more frightening is it when the music turns ominous just before Jason leaps out at his next victim? Watch any scene you like without the soundtrack and it’s alright, but doesn’t have nearly the same impact.

That’s all cool for the movies, but with the exception of an enhanced e-book, how do you get the same impact into print. Most books don’t come with a soundtrack. Or, do they?

As with visualization, the author can imprint his, or her emotions onto their work. How that happens is as much a mystery to me as it is to anyone else, but it can, and does happen. Listening to the right music before, or even during the writing of a scene can be an immense help for an aspiring author.

It’s all a part of immersing yourself into the tale you are telling.

Atmosphere is very important for a writer, in my honest opinion. Very little has been able to help me become the story more than having the right atmosphere to write in. Music is perhaps the easiest, and cheapest way to do just that. You can change your mood, mindset, and feel just by changing the music playing in the background as you work, or listening to it before you sit down at the keyboard.

Now, I’m pretty sure that most of us wordsmiths do listen to music while we work. But, if your having a hard time writing that love scene, did it ever occur to you that it might just be the heavy metal flowing from your speakers? Are you trying to write that action sequence while listening to Celine Deon?

It’s not so much a case of listening to what you want to, although you should like the music you use, as it is setting up the wrong atmosphere by what you are listening to. Music goes straight to the subconscious mind, and if that part of your self isn’t agreeing with what your trying to accomplish… your in for a uphill battle of mammoth proportions.

The right kind of music can even break that dreaded scourge of authors everywhere: Writer’s block!

Just by taking the time to relax to the proper mood setting music, and casually thinking about your story can very often set off a dam bursting rush of ideas. Note I said casually there. Don’t force yourself, and fret over what you need, just let the atmosphere created by the music draw you along. Worry will prove to be your worst enemy when trying this.

So, how can we tell what the proper music is? That’s easy. How does it make you feel?

If your doing a romance scene, and the music you like for that sort of thing makes you feel like you did the first time you fell. That’s it! If your doing an action scene and the music you like makes you feel like you could whip King Kong, Godzilla, and half the Mongol horde of Genghis Khan on your lonesome. That’s it!

I’m kind of grateful that my range of musical taste is wide enough to make the Great Wall of China look like a picket fence. I rarely lack for ‘mood music’ to accomplish my goals. But, even if your own musical tastes are not quite as extensive, I’m sure you have something that will fit the mood you want. Why not put it to use for you?



17 responses to “The Magic’s in The Music

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  1. Mood music is so great! All my WIPs have a specific ‘soundtrack’ – usually a couple different tracks that have similar timbre. But there is one band I can ALWAYS write to, because they have such a relaxed, poetic sound that it’s universally applicable. <3.

    • I had a feeling that there was a soundtrack playing in the background of your last query, Girl. Crank that puppy up, and I’ll bet that rough spot on your WIP will get smoothed out pretty quick. πŸ˜‰

  2. Very true… and I’ve also been grateful for how ecclectic my tastes are in music for this reason.

    • Hi Randall.

      It does make writing certain scenes a bit easier, doesn’t it?

      When you get the chance, or if you want to, come visit us at AQC, M’man. I really think you’ll like it there. Lots of help for any writer, and the camaraderie is fan-frickin-tastic. πŸ™‚

  3. Great Post Mr. Burton!

    I have a couple of short stories that were inspired by evocative songs–another way in which music is a writer’s friend.

    • Yep. I’ve had that experience several times, myself, Michelle.

      One of the longest stories, and pretty popular on the website it was posted on, I did with another writer was inspired by The Highwayman.

      I’d always loved the poem, but it was the musical version of the poem by Loreena McKennitt that inspired me to write it.

      Talk about a word count. That tale has to be 550,000k! πŸ˜€

  4. Wow, we wrote that many words? We totally rocked it!

    I must say I have a Motown soundtrack constantly playing in my mind.

    I do have a burnigng desire to turn ‘Evil Woman’ by E.L.O. into a story.

  5. Oh and if you print Highwayman out? It comes out to around 500 pages!

  6. “Shogun..shoot ’em for they run now…’

    SHOGUN. Not….nevermind. πŸ™‚

  7. Great post! I used to feel silly for having a “writing” playlist, but I guess I’m not the only one πŸ˜›

  8. Nickleback and more Nickleback, that is the answer.

    • Look at this photograph.
      Every time I do it makes me laugh.
      How did my eyes get so red?
      And what the Hell is that on my head?

      (OK, so I paraphrased a bit.) πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€

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