Friday, December 19, 2014

Words and Music

No, this isn't a post about songwriting, though I've done a little of that in my time. I just had a thought the other day about music.

I've got my little theories about things ... or rules. At one time, and maybe still, I would have said that music was the "highest" form of communication. What I meant by that is that it can communicate to people (and maybe animals - who knows?) on multiple levels at once, some of which are so subtle that we don't realize it. Music is like that to the nth degree: the words (if there are any) give you a bit of information. It can be straightforward or poetic (i.e. the lyrics don't make sense, but they produce a feeling or impression in you anyways), but it's one level. The music itself imparts feeling on some sort of elemental level. Evidence of this fact is that people can enjoy - even be fanatically devoted to - music that's not in their native languages. Following this line of thinking, I put film next on the scale, followed by comics, still images, poetry, then prose. Just my little hierarchy.

Anyhow, I began to wonder if one's favorite songs might reflect on one's writing style. Do the songs you like give any insight into how you write or the types of stories you tell?

I think one could make a case. Many of my favorite songs are what I'd call "epics." They're not short. They tend to follow stories or progress through a series of events or emotions. And this is conveyed not only in the lyrics, but also the music. When I listen to these songs, I feel like I'm going through something, some experience, and coming out the other side changed, charged, cleansed maybe?

Examples: "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Under Pressure" by Queen. "Who Are You?" by The Who. And "Carry On Wayward Son" by Kansas.

These songs definitely feel like stories to me, and, not only that, they contain a lot of build up, rising, falling ... a crescendo, and a resolution. The joyous highs are pretty fantastic, and the sorrowful lows kind of wistful and sombre. Freddie Mercury goes from "... can't do this to me baby" to "nothing really matters to me" in "Bohemian Rhapsody." "Love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the Night" in "Under Pressure." Big themes about love, loss, struggle, etc. "My heart is like a broken cup. I only feel right on my knees," it says in "Who Are You?" Life's worn him down!

I think my stories are about these things - big issues, things that create struggle for most of us. I usually focus on one narrator character, but his (or her, though I have written mostly from the male viewpoint) conflicts could be ones many of us face ... not so much facing a dirty house or bad traffic, but trying to find meaning and reason in a crazy, often hostile world.

I do wonder - if one is a fan of jazz, might one's stories be or feel more improvisational? If one's into bubblegum pop, might the stories have a prefab/formulaic feel? Would a person into classical prefer to write structured epics with many interrelated parts (characters), working together?

WRITING NOTES: My progress on "Cosmic Ray" has been slow lately, due to finishing up at school and having a tough time with the scene I'm working on. My published book, "Falling Into Fate," sold 32 copies in its first quarter! It's sold some since then, according to Amazon/BookScan, but it looks like it stopped this week. I would love it if people who'd read it would review it ... a sentence would be fine.


  1. I couldn't agree more with your 'words and music' thoughts. I hope 'Falling into Fate' continues to do well in 2015!

  2. Thanks so much! I am hoping so, too ... I'm sure trying to get it noticed. Also hoping my second novel, "Cosmic Ray," will be out in 2015. VERY, very proud of it, and I hope it'll get people excited.