Why this Blog?

I hope that this blog will become a place to look after my writing ideas and that, over time, I can use it to archive all my favourite creative sites on the web. Maybe others will enjoy it too.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mood Music

One thing I find very helpful when writing, and I'm sure I've mentioned it before, is music. Maybe it's just the way my mind works but I find it easier to immerse myself in something when I have a soundtrack. It's the same in films, but mainly effective when I get to set the tracks to events in books. It's why Iron Sky was somewhat jarring in places (and why I still haven't bought the otherwise excellent soundtrack) and why I enjoyed Fifth Element so much (and did buy the soundtrack, on a whim).

To this end I have two such soundtracks to share with you.

I think I've already said that my latest bout of contiguous writing, Nothing to Fear, was written to the Pet Shop Boys, for the most part, and structured around the track listing of their Fundamental album. That was because the album was very good for creating a particular kind of political narrative suffused with various love stories, all of them vaguely bittersweet, and that was a good background for what I wanted to do. I got as far as track 4 in terms of plot, partly due to the extended nature of the war that started, and found myself bringing in extra tracks to help various scenes and ideas.

However, these were not writing tracks. They were very specific and helped me do a job. Free writing, the kind I don't have much time for these days, is best done to proper immersive music. I have +Nina Mideast Journal, who is lovely, to thank for introducing me to Wait for her, a poem set to music, that fits the bill for what I'm talking about. But she also recently reminded me of the wonderful Ludovico Einaudi whose Una Mattina and Divenire are just divine and work so well to help the flow of words onto the page.

So, the first soundtrack to share is Divenire, which is just beautiful, and always gives me images that are similarly stunning and uplifting. Except maybe Ascolta, which is just raw emotion and sadness - I still love it of course, but it is a different scene that stems from the playing of the emotions.

Musicals are another good thing to write to for me, because they have to do so much with the voice to express emotion with the lyrics. They are actors, yes, but they are forced to rely on the song to get across their thoughts and must show as well as narrate. This means that the combination of instrument and voice can really crank up the emotions if done well - a double act by singer and composer from the beginning. Even brilliant musicals can be botched and awful lyrics saved by the cast.

My second soundtrack is Closer to Heaven by, you guessed it, the Pet Shop Boys. At the moment the stand out tracks are Closer to Heaven (reprise I) and Positive Role Model, neither of which appear to be on youtube and therefore I can't share them directly. But I do urge you, dear visitor, to seek them out and listen. While the gay love story is not to everyone's taste it is a love story. I'm not gay but I can recognise the power of the lyrics and the emotions contained within them well enough - that crosses boundaries in a way that sometimes I can't quite get. For instance, I love Chess the musical but I can never quite buy the love triangle between Florence, the Russian and Svetlana - they sing well, with emotion, but I never 'get' the love. They are, of course, straight, so I should recognise it from my own life experience. But it is nowhere near as powerful as the love in Closer to Heaven.

I think I may have strayed on a tangent here...


  1. Music and writing share a very complex love affair :) Thanks for sharing these pieces, I had never heard any of them before and they are lovely. Personally, I find listening to "foreign" music helps a lot with my writing, meaning songs in languages other than my own (English) - it works in a similar way to how you talked about the gay love story "I can recognise the power of the lyrics and the emotions contained within them well enough." Not being able to follow the words really helps you get into the emotions and the feel of what is going on rather than just what people are saying... or at least I think so hehe besides, just because you don't know the words doesn't mean it's not good music :)

    1. Oh I know what you mean! My partner and I are a tad addicted to Eurovision, and we always prefer the ones that are sung in their own language rather than English.

      Witness Le Roi Soliel for example, wonderful emotive stuff, no idea what they're saying!