Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Method to Madness: Matching music and mood

Most of my adult life I've had music playing on walkmen, discmen, crappy MP3 players, iPods, and my phone. Seeing me in college walking with a pair of headphones on wasn't just par for the course, it was a constant of who I was and still am.

At most jobs, I'd be constantly connected, modifying my mood, getting audible inspiration and motivation to calm down, rev up, work harder, work meticulously, and any variation you can imagine. To say I'm symbiotic with music is a fair, just, and pleasant statement I'll never mind hearing.

So when it comes to writing, music and I work hand in hand... or well hand in ear, but you get what I mean.

My musical choices for writing do vary a lot and it will greatly depend on the mood I am or the mood I need to be for what I want to write. For battle scenes, I won't listen to arias and sonatas, I'm going full blast with something that helps me tap into that inner violence we all have within. That spark that smiles when you see a knockout. Heavy metal music is the perfect choice and of that I have plenty of options including Fear Factory, first album by Slipknot, Rammstein, Slayer, Meshuggah, and Sepultura, just to name a few. For something more spiritual, the moment can dictate the song. I've listened to everything from Tool's more ethereal tracks, to Anathema, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Sigur Ros, Elbow, classical music, you name it.

But the important thing to remember is that we're all wired differently.

When I was a teen I would go to sleep with Darkside of the Moon and Downward Spiral as if either album was a good option to sleep to, SPOLER ALERT: they're not because of the clocks on Time and the brutal guitars on March of the Pigs. Of note is that I can work with music with lyrics and not let it creep into what I'm writing because I'm able to detach myself from the music just enough to reach that state where you start making up lyrics that have NOTHING to do with what is really being sung but which is exactly what your soul hears beneath the layers of voices.

For something sad, Radiohead, the Cure, Beck, and some albums by the Eels definitely help me to get to that mood. But again, that's me and how I modify my perception and emotional state.

What is definitely certain is that everything I write has the flavor of some type of music and I do think it's a very effective tool to take your brain and heart to meet up with where your story is. It's also a good way of being able to tap into those emotions and later disengage with other music.

I say this because for me, my writing is very personal and it is very kinetic as I write it, meaning it can and does affect me. Sometimes positively, sometimes leaving me with certain emotions that I needed to achieve to write something the way it had to be written. The beauty in this is that when I'm done, I can switch the track and lead my self on an audible journey out of that mood into a better headspace. Sometimes it can be while also doing reflections and deep breathing and other times with a walk.

Whatever the case, music is a part of my life and an essential part of my writing. I love writing to a rhythm and my keyboard goes from being a medium to tap keys to capture my thoughts and words and transforms into its own musical instrument. A percussive communication instrument and yes, sometimes you can get in random stances or really just focus on the keyboard as if it were a piano and vary your keystrokes... but still... there's the music again.

So when you have a story to write or you're working on a novel, try mapping out the plot and the emotions you want to achieve on each chapter. When you have a good idea of where you're going, turn your writing into a road trip and set the playlist that best lets you get on the journey and capture your story, your words, and your emotions.

Who knows? You might find something new in your writing or you may find a better rhythm to work on those stories you like to share.

Peace, love, and maki rolls

Ps.: do you write listening to music? If so, what do you listen to and why?

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