Monday, January 03, 2005

Music for a rainy writing day

I adore acoustic guitars and guys with scratchy voices who sing mellow tunes, so I'm grateful that my Number One Son (who returned to Chicago late last night--you people in the Windy City be nice to my kid, or else) persuaded me to pick up two CDs that I would have walked right past.

On a whim I had decided I could not live another day without some Joshua Bell CDs, so we hurried to the music store in search of two specific titles. But then my brain got twisted somehow, or maybe that was my arm, because suddenly my son was grinning hard and I was writing a check for two Coldplay CDs, A Rush of Blood to the Head and Parachutes.

I couldn't find either of the Joshua Bells I was hunting for, although I did bring home a collection of violin adagios performed by Joshua, Midori, Itzhak, and others. I listened to that for a while last night, but then I found myself grooving to Coldplay until 2:30 this morning. It's excellent romance-writing music, especially on a rainy day like this one, so I'm playing it again right now. It captures perfectly the mood of the scenes I'm working on.

But suddenly I'm wondering if instead of merely enhancing my mood, these evocative tunes might be subtly influencing it, taking my writing in another direction. For example, the hero of my story would normally choose hard-driving rock, but it appears that the Coldplay is soothing his savage breast.*

Here's a question for anyone who listens to music while writing or engaging in some other creative endeavor: What do you listen to and why? How does your writing influence your choices, and how do your choices influence your writing?


*By the way, will everyone please stop yammering about how "music hath charms to soothe the savage beast"? It's breast, folks. Look it up. You'll find the line in William Congreave's play, The Mourning Bride. Google it and see for yourself, then go tell all of your friends and let's end this nonsense.

13 comments:

Kate R said...

I've recently started listening to music as I write, but I have to listen to wordless music or I start transcribing lyrics. That's worse than being subtly influenced even.

Hey while you're on your breast soapbox (eeewww) could you point out that it's madding crowd and not maddening? Thank you.

Brenda Coulter said...

Your wish is my command, Kate. Crowds are often maddening, as we who left our Christmas shopping until December 24 can attest. But in Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, the crowd was "madding", meaning that the people were running to madness, or acting crazy. Thomas Hardy hijacked the phrase to title one of his books Far From the Madding Crowd.There's a subtle difference between the words. A "madding" crowd is going crazy, while a "maddening" crowd is driving others crazy.

Is there anything else I can do for you this evening, Kate? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hey looky there! I come here for amusement and learn something! LOL Not sure if I like that or not! ;-)
Heather

tristan coulter said...

Glad you're enjoying the music. When I get some time, I'll recommend some others.

Kate R said...

Thank you, Brenda. I feel much better now.

Brenda Coulter said...

Hey, Tristan was here! That's my Number One Son, everybody. <3 <3 <3 (Those are hearts.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, it was Tristan! I am his most adoring fan! (yes, it is Anonymous Sister again) He is even cooler (way!) than his mom--but I really like her too.

Anonymous said...

And...Tristan has VERY good taste in music.

AS

tristan coulter said...

I hear Tristan also really likes his aunt. He misses her. =(

Brenda Coulter said...

Sheesh. Is this getting sappy, or what? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tristan should come see his Auntie sometime...or perhaps I will just come there!

See Brenda, you have completely lost control here!

tristan coulter said...

we're hijacking your journal, mom.

Aunt, anytime you want to come visit me, I'll clear my schedule. (That goes for you too, Mom.) Otherwise i'll be down in your next of the woods this late spring/early summer. I'll be in touch.

Anonymous said...

cool...just let me know when...

For those who read this blog to get an insight to "all things Brenda" I feel it is important for you to know that she has absolutely delightful sons...they are truly wonderful human beings. I think that says a lot about her.