Humanity has come a long way from reed whistles and simple drums. We have explored all things capable of creating a pleasing melody or rhythm, including our own voices. I don’t consider myself any kind of expert on music. I could tell you the difference between an organ and a guitar, and possibly the difference between monophonic and polyphonic chants, but don’t ask me to differentiate between hard rock and heavy metal. And what exactly is ska?
Music is the universal language of the soul. You know why? Because it’s like math, but easier on the brain. It translates math into something that you don’t have to think about. It moves through you and delivers its message loud and clear. Music can change the way we feel. How many times have you heard a song that made you cry, or smile? It can even affect our health, and I don’t just mean destroying your hearing by the time you’re forty because you play heavy metal (again, don’t ask for a definition) at top volume through earplugs. Harmonious music has been documented to alter blood pressure, relieve stress and anxiety.
And then there is Christmas music. Who doesn’t love Christmas music? Come Thanksgiving, every radio station plays at least one song a day and there are some that play Christmas music all day every day, all year long which I just think is a little excessive.
The point is, at the best of times and the worst of times, music is what most of us turn to. We play songs at weddings and funerals, we sing in celebration, to honor our loved ones, to mourn those who are no longer with us, or to pray. What I love most are harmonies. Voice or instrumental, pick a song, any song that has them and I guarantee you, if they hit the right notes, it will get me every single time. I’ve gotten choked up at the most ridiculous times because ten seconds of a song were so beautiful they touched my soul.
Music is my inspiration when I am stuck, or need a little extra something to get the scene I am in just right. But it has to be the right kind of music because if it doesn’t fit, the story doesn’t go anywhere. The weird thing is that I don’t always realize it. I could be writing something and music becomes just background noise. Unless I know exactly what I need, I set all my music to randomize all and I can be sitting there, struggling for a good half hour until it suddenly clicks and I hit a good flow story-wise. I always smile when that happens and then it hits me. It’s the song!
Today I was editing the big battle scene for The Royal Wizard. Since it’s a fantasy book, in a medieval-like world, you’d think I would want something like the above chant (ployphonic, by the way). Nope! Turns out I needed Disturbed. Yeah, “Warrior” was my song today and I am damn proud of the scene it spawned for the 40 minutes or so I had it on loop. After that I randomized all again and this came on:
A song which will forever make me think of goofy friends doing a goofy dance in tandem in a very nice hotel suite in New Orleans. Fantastic material for reminiscing. Not so great for writing about dragons. Just goes to show you, when it comes to inspiration, sometimes silence is music in its own right. 😉
And sometimes, visuals help too. Like this: