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Part IX: Music

By Remy Benoit

What is the role of music in our lives?
"I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go without effort, when I am filled with music.

— George Elliot

What is the role of music in your life, in your character's?

What comes to mind when you hear Wagner once you have seen Apocalypse Now? What comes into your mind when you have lived it and hear that music? Take that one easy; one note at a time, with a friend if possible. Try to make that possible.

What music enthralls you, enraptures you, soothes you, irritates you?

There is a great deal of research being done on the role of music in our lives.

Think back to your teenager years. What special songs come to mind? Make a list of words of the feelings, emotions that surface when you hear that music. What place do you remember? Who was with you in that place, at that time? Where were you going; what were you doing? What scents come to mind? What is the overwhelming feeling that comes from the memory of a particular piece of music? What words best describe that feeling

Write a word picture to share of that moment in time with someone dear to you now. Perhaps you could share it with your mate, your child, or your grandchild.

There have been studies done that show when older people are placed in environments, total environments from their more youthful day, that their health improves. This artificial environment included furniture, media, clothes, newspapers, books, music, etc. What does this perhaps indicate to us about the role of our minds and its relationship to our aging and health? There seems to be much to ponder there.

What is your relationship with contemporary music? Do you listen to it at all? Does it speak to you, or do you prefer the music of your youthful time? How do you use music in writing? Does your character express her tastes in dinner music, concert going, radio listening in her car? Does she had a deep familiarity with musicians and pieces from a particular time period?

You might want to try a simple music/writing exercise. Select a variety of music from country through classical. Over a period of days, select a quiet time with lights dimmed and listen to a part of what you have selected. Note your bodily reactions to the music, the words, feelings, emotions that come to mind and write them down for future reference when writing a scene. Note while you are doing this the frame of mind that you brought to the music. You might note what music seems to soothe you when you are agitated; what kind of music brings you up when you are feeling low. Not only can you use that information for yourself, you can apply it to your writing.

What does Rap say to you, or do to you?

How do you feel when you hear a choir of children's voices raised in song? Does it transport you, elevate you?

How do you react to the chanting of religious verses?

When you lie in the grass on a warm summer's day, can you hear the hum of the universe at life around you?

Or do you prefer the music of tidal waters?

no time time

need the no time time of the water
the no time time of the water lapping
under me
under the dock,
the no time time of water lapping on pilings
under the hull
rocking, cradling

tired, so tired,
need the water
time of no time
just the flow
just the rising falling swell
of the water
no time water time
need breathing in and out
with the
no time time
of tidal water.

Can you or your character still yourself enough to hear the wind in a blade grass swaying softly next to your ear?

Can you find the words to describe the sound of snowfall in a pine wood?

How many words can you list to describe the sound of the wind blowing?

What kind of music does the fire in the fire place play?

What is the music of hot soup simmering on your stove?

It is all music.

Do you play an instrument? Does your character play an instrument? What is the role of this instrument in you/his life? What instrument do you/he not play that you wish you did?

How do you define your relationship to music?


went to a concert and there was a sax payer named patience
was his real name
went backstage to see the musicians and all
and found him
sounded just like his name
slow voice
in his silence
music simmering beneath the quiet exterior
charlie parker just waiting to explode out of his lips
talked slow
walked slow
held his instrument close to his heart
the only place it would ever be
everybody put down their things
and talked to the group of people that waited impatiently
always holding his sax
"may i have an autograph ?"
moved it gently aside
"may i have a picture with you ?"
hand gently resting on the gentle curve
like us all
instrument a part of him

taking an ax to the prison wall
sliding out the side and dying
being quiet

like the rest of nature
a word we sometimes use foolishly
purest of pure
dead to "progress"
surest sign of life
ambling along
at its own pace
the most natural pace
no worries

i shall never go back to sleep
if i have the strength
to find me

do kiss me
let me pay the ultimate price
let me know silence
so that i can finally know
and then you
truly at the same time
my love
because my knowledge
lies in our death
and birth into the ultimate
into closeness
into silence



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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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