The Muse in Our Music: How Sound Inspires Story

*Originally published on I Came For The Soup… June 23, 2014

“…music is the water that takes potentiality and turns it into a tangible substance.”

Music, whether it is just background noise or a tool used to build the plots of my written works, has always been a big part of my creative process, and it always will be.

Whenever I write, whenever I create visual art, I always allow my ‘ear gates’ to be open. With writing, there is, of course, the ‘eye gate’ that we all use in order to aid in the imagery of our stories giving our creations a place to tread upon. Visual stimulus is a fantastic seed, that when planted in the right creative soil, can hold the potential of yielding a magnificent literary harvest.

But sound, music, music is the water that takes potentiality and turns it into a tangible substance.

Song and sound are the creative vibrations that resonate in the deepest part of our soul, spirit, and imagination. Song shifts the atmosphere around us, changes our mood, directs our minds.

Music is the inspirational tool that we all use on a daily basis whether we realize it or not. The sound of fan blades blowing in your ears at night helps you to sleep. The sound of rain, thunder, and lightning help you to relax and for me, create.

Music keys are Keys that unlock the doors to our created worlds and the hearts and minds of our characters.

Love songs put us in a loving mood. Angry songs make us want to break things. When we struggle to connect with our emotions, music, be it with words or just instrumentals, help us to say and express what needs to be said and expressed in the moment when our own words fail us.

With each novel that I have sat down to write, I have leaned on specific tunes to meditate on in order to “get my head in the game,” if you will. Not only does the music remind me of the story and place me right in the center of the plot, but it gets my inner-man, my creative man, in touch with the emotion and mood of the scene. Most importantly, it helps me get into the heads of my characters.

Without doing this, getting into the characters’ heads and hearts, there would be no story to tell. Music is the bridge that brings our worlds together.

Music is a language all its own. It has a sound and it has a script. It has to be learned for literacy but even without literacy we all come tuned to understand what is being said. The beauty of it is that the lyrics can be saying something contrary to the story it births in us.

For each story that I have written, there is a different soundtrack or sound map. The keys within the songs help me unlock each character. Sometimes I focus on one specific character and through their unveiling, I see into the hearts of the other characters around them.

Just like us, our characters are people too. They are complex, they are layered, and like symphonies, they have highs and lows, drama and peace.

Create an atmosphere of sound for yourself and your stories. Let the music and sound speak and be sure to listen.

“The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words.”  ~William H. Gass

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