Musical Connections

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” – Albert Einstein

So for those of you who don’t know: I’m a musician.

I started as a music major but ended up with a minor in it, I have been active in church music for over a decade, not to mention various jazz and rock ensembles. Which means only one thing:

I’m what some would call a music lover.

So obviously, when I write stories there is music involved. I was hesitant to reveal this, but I think it will do more good than harm. I’ve already disclosed that i watch television when I write sometimes, and television is full of music. It permeates our world, so why shouldn’t it permeate our writing? When I write certain genres of fiction, in my head they are linked with different genres of music. For example, when I write cyberpunk, 80’s synth pop is in my head. When I write epic space opera, I hear Queen’s ‘Flash’. If I’m writing some sort of battle sequence I usually have Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’ playing in my head. If I’m writing some sort of serious scene where maybe two lovers are speaking, I have Miles Davis’ ‘Blue in Green’ going on.

By the way, Miles Davis’ album “Kind of Blue” is excellent.

Anyway, what if you knew what music would be playing when your story is made into a film? Or to make it a little more useful, what do you see when you listen to music?

1. Close your eyes when you listen to music

Try this sometime. Just listen to music and see what your mind sees. Then write it down. Maybe you have a story based on a song that has been dying to come out of you but you didn’t know how to release it.

2. Watch film with the intent of learning where the music fits

I was watching The Empire Strikes Back last night and, as always, John Williams’ score was excellent. And well placed. And invoked emotions and suspense. So what kind of music would be playing during your story? Jazz? An orchestral score? A Rock Opera? None? If you can learn to let music feed your scene, your writing will become almost effortless. Almost 🙂 For example, Watch Star Wars and notice the rise and fall of the music. Or watch Top Gun and notice that there is a driving rock song during a high speed dogfight. Or Cowboy Bebop with some…ahem…bebop music playing during a chase or fight scene.

3. Listen to more music

Maybe you only listen to one type of music. STOP IT. Listen to more. If you learn to listen to all different genres of music, you will earn to recognize it in other mediums such as film or anime or whatever. Then you can utilize your skills of observation and write stories that are more likely to attach themselves to readers. Readers of science fiction are also watchers of science fiction. They make associations with music and genre as well. Learn what kinds of music to write to, and I guarantee connections that resonate.

If you want an example of the intertwining of music and sci fi in literature, I would suggest picking up Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Laced with references to music, it is sort of the epitome of what I’m talking about. He obviously heard music in his head all of the time. I’ll leave you with a quote from him.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

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