anghara (anghara) wrote,

The music of writing

ramblin_phyl reminded me of the time we warbled the "writer's anthem" at a con we attended together - we chose "Show me" from "My Fair Lady" as the ultimate admonition to writers.

Yes, this one:

That vigorous "SHOW ME!" should be a meme for all writers everywhere. Show me NOW! Please don't, as the lady puts it, "exp'line", don't tell me, SHOW ME!

Put me there with the protagonist. Let me feel the heat or the cold or breathe the dust, or be afraid or be triumphant. Show me. Let me be there; let me, in the final battle, stand beside the king, and not off on a distant hill writing down notes for later, film at 11. Show me. Let me a part of the story.

But there are so many other ways music can be a part of a writing life.

I have a couple of examples from, of all people, ABBA - who were sometimes seriously underestimated. Yes, they started as bubblehead pop, with Mamma Mia and Waterloo - but some of their later songs, the ballads, were thoughtful, even mythopoeic. They are definitely "what if" songs, triggering stories. Here's a couple, one from each of the girls, just to even things out - first a gentle remembrance song from Annifrid -

- and then a tour-de-force by Agneta -

Listen to the lyrics for this one. It's a story - it's a story done in the space of a few verses of song. "I had no sense of living without aim/the day before you came" - omigod. That just spills over with potential. (What HAPPENED the day that he DID arrive? The day after? THe rest of their lives...?)

There's lots of songs like that. Brimming with questions which stories leap up to answer. Inspirations.

But you can't write TO that music. The words are what triggers you, and if you're already in the story you don't want to be retriggered to something else again.

The music to write to are the instrumentals, and here's a couple of examples of that -

- this piece of music, from "Dragonheart", was the reason I started my CD collection. I walked out of that movie craving the music, I could only get it on CD, so I bought the CD - and then had to buy the CD player to play it on - and now I have mumble CDs on my shelf... music can be dangerous. But MAN, the mood of this. It just gives my heart a squeeze and makes me somehow oddly sad but also proud, and determined, and ready to take a stand and take whatever is being flung at me. That's the power of a mood piece:

The other example is a piece of music from a movie called "Hanover Street". In this particular clip, you get the full impact of that sweet sad introduction theme - and they you also get a glimpse of the story that follows it. If you can find the movie, watch it. It always reduces me to tears. BEAUTIFULLY done, and although the story is an oft-told one - people loved, if not wisely then too well, and then did things in the name of that love which were strange, or impulsive, or indefensible, but always fuelled by a passion for living - the story might be old, but it's something that we are all living, one way or another, and the very familiarity breeds a recognition which makes you respond viscerally. The power of story.

So - if you write - what kind of music inspires you? What kind of music do you write about? What kind of music do you write to?...
Tags: music

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