Monday, July 12, 2010


There's no question in anybody's mind that people are creatures of mood. Mood, what random thing, creates and destroys, wages war and pursues peace, and decides who lives and who dies. Most probably don't look at mood that way, but it's the truth. How many of us were born as a result of momentary passion and how many will be killed from reactionary anger or stupidity? An old definition of mood is "fit of anger." Perhaps a resurrection of such definition would be apropos.

Life. Death. It's all a case of mood.

Art, as we all know, is the greatest motivation for and execution of mood that humanity has ever known or will ever know. Painting, sculpture, theatre, motion picture, dance... all causes and effects of motivation, inspiration, emotion. Each capable of lighting a fire that can burn in artistic and scientific minds alike... but those burns tend to be temporal.

Music, however, has a far greater ability to be "permanent."

No. I am not claiming that music is the greatest form of art. Some might think so (musicians, probably), but such interpretation is solely within the realm of the individual. What I am claiming is that music, unlike other art forms, can be consistently inspirational AND do so while someone is in the process of creating.

Think about it. All you need is some sort of music-playing device and some ear-phones and, bingo, you can write to music, paint to music, sculpt to music, etc (perhaps composing music to other music is a tad difficult, but you get where I'm going). A sad song on repeat can instill the proper level of depression for an author to write a morose passage in a novel. A lively song on repeat can impact a painter's use of bright colors. And the list goes on.

All of this probably seems obvious, and you're probably wondering why I'm wasting my time writing about it. Well, writing to music often works for me and I recommend it to those who are having trouble finding the correct tone for their work. I will admit that attempting to construct plot to music is a little distracting and difficult, but as more writers have issues with characterization than they do plot, this little trick comes in handy. Emotional writing comes from emotional reaction. And reacting emotionally to music is a rather easy thing to do.

Many of you do this already, no doubt, but some of you might not. When I initially started "song-writing" I tended to listen to a preferred radio station or an entire CD. Because of the shift in tone that invariably happens from one song to the next (even the subtle shifts between, say, ballad to ballad), I often found that my writing would wind up wildly inconsistent in tone. But then I tried a single song on repeat. And it works for me.

Of course, we're all different. Perhaps you'd prefer to write to sculpture. Or the wonderful music that is silence. Use whatever sets the mood required to annihilate a blank page staring at you, and the art will follow.


PattiKen said...

I went to a free concert in a park tonight. After it was over, I sat and watched as people left. As I suppose is not unexpected at a free concert, many were seniors. Just looking at them, being wheeled out by a younger person, holding hands with their spouses, or shuffling off alone, what I saw was so many stories. People watching is music to my mind's ear.

Tom said...

i usually write to silence, or at least the constant drone of a humming computer, and in a groove don't notice anyway--i don't like the distraction of music, but i don't mind having the tv on when i'm kicking back with the doodle pad.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

I find that while in-process, music is great like you are saying, as long as I don't have throw-back memories attached. 'Never heard before and only once' is good for me.
Except, it seems, on deadline. Then it's Rundgren REAL LOUD.

She Writes said...

Well, I had no idea you do this. Makes sense though. I do it all the time. Maybe I should try it again when I get a chance. Bad case of nothing to write in my head lately.

Wings said...

Listen to music all the time. Not always an inspiration, but always good to listen to stuff one enjoys.

Brian Miller said...

interesting thougths jeff...i have not listened to music on repeat like that though i have written while listening to music. this seems pretty sound...will definitely give it a try.

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