The Music of the Muse

Back when I was a kid, all the really cool movies had accompanying soundtracks. I was in love with these things. There was a section of my record collection devoted to Jesus Christ Superstar, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Dunwich Horror, The Hunger, and The Shining, just to name a few. With the black light on and the incense smoke swirling in the room, I listened to these just as much as I did all that screaming 80s hair band music and loved them just as much, if not more, because of the moods they would create. I can’t help but wonder if my parents thought maybe I was conjuring up old Beelzebub when some of these albums were playing … talk about your Devil Music!

While I was writing my first novel, an epic fantasy adventure called “The Pride”, I listened to a lot of Enya. She was big back in the 1990s. I even made a soundtrack for the novel, basing each selection on a certain scene and putting them in chronological order on the cassette tape. Good times.

I didn’t write much of anything but short stories and poetry in the ten years following “The Pride”. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of other author’s being asked if music plays a role in their writing. Most seemed to choose music of a similar genre to whatever they were writing in, to set a certain mood, I guess. The horror writers leaned towards dark, gothic stuff and metal. Romance writers seemed to linger in the Classical section. You get the idea.

For a long time, I needed near total silence in order to focus on my writing. Anything with words in it was completely distracting. I’d sing along instead of working. For a while, I’d use Mozart or Chopin for that simple reason, no singing! And then, for no recallable reason whatsoever, I had my headphones on listening to the Blues as I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. My fingers danced over the keyboard. One scene after another rolled out of me in thousands upon thousands of words. I was thrilled! What had I just discovered? Was this a fluke or had I stumbled upon my Muse’s music? The Blues seems a very odd choice to write Horror to.

In the years since this revelation, the effect has remained the same. BB King, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Stevie Ray Vaughn along with so many others would rock and croon their way into my writer’s brain, waking up that little Muse and sending her into action. It’s almost a fool proof way of smashing writer’s block. And if I can’t get any writing done even then, I know it’s time to save, close, and go do something else for a while, cuz if it isn’t happened then, it ain’t gonna happen.

How about you? Is there certain music that helps you progress with your chosen craft, be it writing, painting, scrap booking, or even housework? What kind of music inspires you and your Muse into motion?

Is Philip’s Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

While looking for something to plug into my ears while I work, I came across some Philip Glass music. From my understanding, Glass is what is called a minimalist musician. Some of his stuff I honestly just don’t get, but then there is the album Koyaanisqatsi, which means “life out of balance” in Hopi.

A once good friend from up Albany way whom I’ve not been in contact with for, God, 10+ years and on whom I partially blame for helping me to discover my apparently  not-so-shabby ability to write erotica stories, introduced Glass to me. It’s different, it’s very, very different.

It turns out that Koyaanisquatsi is actually a movie soundtrack. I had no idea that was the case until this morning, so poked around beyond that to see what other weirdness Glass was up to. I was not disappointed. Another piece called Einstein on the Beach is almost fifteen minutes of seemingly random counting, spoken word, and single long held notes played on an electric keyboard. The Hours isn’t so bad and the music for The Kiss is alright even if the video is more than a little bizarre. Is that cotton candy she’s wearing?

As much as I like “Koyaanisquatsi” in small doses and listening to music beyond the top twenty soft rock, country, and/or pop tunes that are played on the radio – today I think I made the wiser choice and settled on my favorite stand-by of taking in some even earlier memories from back when I was just a kid; good old episodes of CBS Radio Mystery Theater instead.

I’m feeling pretty balanced lately and I’m afraid that listening to too much Philip Glass might throw that all out of whack. Besides, I really don’t need to be any wackier.