Music & the Muse

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Like a lot of writers, I’ve used music to help get me in the right/write mindset. Love songs played while writing a love scene is obvious. But I’ll listen to my hero/heroine favorite types of music, to help anchor me in their pov, or to music that conveys an overall mood or reflection that underscores the basic theme of the story—betrayal, lost, redemption, etc. Or sometimes the music is about setting—whether because of bias or stereotyping (so, sue me), I’ll listen to a lot of seventies rock n roll, John Cougar, etc, whenever I have a setting outside of the city.

On the other hand, when I had a heroine who was a nightclub owner, I heavily geared my listening to a variety of dance/urban selections (house, pop, reggae, rap, mixes, etc). Looking back now, the funny thing is, I’m not sure those were her favorite types of music. She enjoyed them, obviously, but I think love songs were probably her favorites, except she didn’t listen to them that often. And that could be because Raine was a master of hiding her feelings and burying her pain.

Wow! I love when little odd things about a story hit you from out of nowhere, but they were there all along, woven into the fabric of the work! Interesting tidbit for me to use when I go back to that story.

In contrast, Winston, the hero, loved Opera. Partly due to his upbringing. He was Italian, his parents loved and listened to opera all the time while he was growing up. But of more relevance, he’s a criminal lawyer, and somewhat egocentric. He loves the stage of the courtroom and the attention of those headline grabbing cases. He loves living well, dressing well, enjoying the best, and all the other larger than life aspects of his chosen career—the same element that appealed to him in opera.

I know some writers will not listen to music as they writer, or won’t listen to songs with words, they find it doesn’t anchor them or draw them into the scene, but is actually a distraction. I prefer to write with music, but if it becomes a distraction, I turn it down or off. **update, I was just on Sela Carsen's blog and she posted something yesterday regarding her dislike of combining writing and music.

There’s one more way I used music to write, or plot. I listen to classical music while I sleep. I put the radio on very low and just before I fall asleep I think about my current project, the next scene, dialogue, characterization, story arcs. Then when I do sleep, I have *very* vivid dreams about the work-in-progress. I wake up energized, refreshed, totally in the moment of the story and in the heads of my characters. Works every time. But only with classical music. Probably has something to do with The Mozart Effect. ::shrug:: I also do this just to relax. It distresses me.

Anywho, I hadn’t been listening to classical music at night for awhile now. See, we suddenly developed a problem with mice over a year ago. Lasted for several months, and I took to wearing earplugs to bed (so I couldn’t ‘hear’ the scratchy ::shudder:: sounds, or the sharp THWACK! (and consequent imaginary high pitch squeal) when/if a trap went off. ::shudder:: ). Haven’t seen a mouse since late summer, but it’s taken that long to stop wearing the earplugs. I’ve been so darn sick/feverish several nights ago, the earplugs were unworn, and I had some very vivid dreams about Zoë and Odil. Today is the day I start to write them down, if I can stay upright long enough.
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Anonymous said...

Hope you feel better, Vanessa!

I didn't know the Mozart was effective as you slept!
{off to dig up my Mozart cds...)


Sela Carsen said...

I've linked back to you in my post now, too! Like I said, great minds don't always think alike. ;-)

Olga-Lita said...

Vanessa, hi! I often get some of my best ideas while dreaming or while listening to music (and, um, when I'm in the shower. There's something intertwining about cleaning your body and clearing your mind, or is it steam and that organic experienc?). I have several fav CD's which I pop in while I'm in the car, and then get the images. I don't use music while I write, but I love to use it when I'm plotting.

Dana said...

Hey Vanessa from a fellow Gonna Bee! Love your blog! Do you mind if I add your link to mine?


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