I think it goes without saying that music has tremendous power. Imagine Jaws without those infamous two notes. Imagine Dances With Wolves without that incredibly expansive theme. How about Star Wars? Inception? Of course, what I’ve mentioned is only film scoring (and a tiny sample at that). Music for the vast majority is part of everyday life – when we get in the car the radio is on, or a CD, or if you’re really old school a tape (though I don’t know that many people are rushing around in car that still sports a useable tape deck). We tend to make our own scores to our lives… I know I do.
Here is a nearly sad truth about me, a little secret… I don’t write as well without music. I have playlists for every mood I need to create, and when the music is in my ears, the story spills itself out on the page. There are some pieces of music (songs included) that when I hear them, I have the incredible urge to write. The most amazing thing I’ve discovered is that on rare occasions, when I’m listening to something classical, I am typing in time with the music – as if I am playing the music.
I’ve found myself thinking about art in general. Most people who create art need inspiration, and art spawns art. Imagine for a moment that all art is a translation of the act of creation: The paintings you see are inspired by music. The music you hear is inspired by painting. The writing you read is inspired by music. The movie you watch is inspired by writing. Somewhere in time there might have been an original spark of creative energy that has simply been translating itself endlessly, in all variations, over and over. Perhaps the translation is so vast we can only interpret the information bit by bit through the myriad of minds capable of expression. Some people might consider it God, some might consider it the Universe, some might consider it simply the infinite fractal design of science laying itself out in natural order. Whatever you call it, its powerful and ancient.
Back to music, it’s just part of me. When I was young we had a hi-fi in our dining room. I’d play record after record with my chin on the stereo, soaking up not only the sounds through my ears, but the vibrations through my bones. I’d watch the record spin round and round, company logos – Epic, Arista, Capitol, RCA Victor, and who could forget the beautiful tree-lined logo of Warner Brothers? I listened to everything from my father’s bluegrass and country albums on one side, learning to love Marty Robbins, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Seals and Croft, to my mother’s albums on the other, The Gap Band, Michael Jackson, Karen Carpenter, Barry Manilow, Halls and Oates. As I grew older, I found rock – AC/DC, Alice in Chains; Grunge with Nirvana; Alternative with Toad the Wet Sprocket, Stone Temple Pilots, Live; Classic rock with Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett; Blues with B.B. King… and it’s only continued to grow as my tastes expand and change (Rory Gallagher – exquisite). I can go through every genre except death metal to give an example, and I’ve listened to the obscure non-mainstream as well, though admittedly not as much as many of my audiophile friends.
For me, life isn’t life without music. The movement of vibrations is coded into our DNA – even back to the first star bursting in the universe – albeit in the silence of space. Still, remnants of radiation can be picked up on earth and heard – the soundtrack to the big bang. Vibrations, our music, are primal. We danced around the fires thousands of years ago, clapping and singing, acting out the animals we hunted and the spirits we felt moving over the face of the earth. It’s spiritual. It’s deep.
It’s the little things. There’s no where I can go where music isn’t a necessary. Even in complete silence, my brain goes about playing music in perfect pitch (though there are times when the words aren’t quite right, but hey, if you sing out loud in your car you know how easy it is to compensate). My most inspired writing comes from translating the moods and emotions in music. And nothing can beat sitting in the perfect spot, with the perfect cup of tea, listening to the perfect track, while banging on my keyboard in the hopes of creating the perfect story.
So what is your soundtrack? I’d love to see what you listen to and check it out if it’s someone I’ve not discovered or heard. Drop me a comment and send me some good tunes!