Tag Archives: music

Of Music and Writing or On Inspiration

The word “music” is derived from the Greek “Mousike,” which literally means “(the art) of the Muse.”

I have decided that there are two types of people in the world: hearers and listeners.

For hearers, music comes as a happy escape.  These are the sorts of people who turn on the radio and listen to whatever happens to be playing and use it as background noise.  Hearers tend to be fans of “pop” music.  You know the stuff I’m talking about – those candy-coated lyrics with no meaning behind them, polished off with the facade of a Disney star that is distributed and sold in bulk to the sheep-like masses of the everyday consumer.  Ah, capitalism.

Listeners, on the other hand, have a deeper appreciation of music.  To them, it means something more.  Listeners seek to find the special type of music that moves them to create something wonderful, whether it be their own music, a painting, or a poem.  Just like anyone, listeners can be found everywhere.  However, one particular type of the listener often comes to mind: the one who is typically tucked away in a local coffee shop that sells fair trade, organic coffee in a concrete jungle filled with high rises, or on any university campus, sitting in a quad playing guitar in between their liberal arts classes. 

As for me, I fall into the latter category.  Ever since I can remember, music was always in my life.  My father was a musician, so up until he left, there would always be some sort of melody in the house.  Usually jazz or Rat Pack.  After he left, there was not a tune to be heard.  That is, until I discovered that my father’s love of music was something he passed on to me.

I am no musician, and I have never claimed to be.  But there is something that comes over me, much like a fire spreading, when I hear a particularly beautiful song.  It is much more than just some vocals backed up by instruments.  Music reaches into the very depths of my heart, somehow turning on the proverbial light bulb in my head.

I was recently asked one of those “worst-case-scenario” questions that went something like, “If you had to lose either your sight or your hearing, which would you choose?”  While neither sense would be particularly appealing to lose, I answered that life would be very dull without music.  I did not actually answer the question directly, but it did spur the conversation.  Apparently, I did not choose the “correct” answer.

I took music classes throughout my grammar and middle school years, and often begged my mother for piano lessons and an acoustic guitar, neither of which I ever received, but have since picked them up as an adult.  What I did get were CDs and stereos. 

In high school, I started focusing more on writing.  I did not take any music classes, as I was entirely preoccupied with submitting some haphazard manuscripts to places I had never heard of.  I was disheartened when they were not accepted, but now I thank them for not publishing me.  I would hate to be associated with such hurried and ill-written work (do not even get me started with my poor character development and imitation of style).

It was not until university that I brought the two arts together.  I found that listening to music was very soothing while cramming for my exams.  Then, when I was writing a paper, I had some music on low volume.  Listening to the words, my creativity became even more vibrant.  I can’t believe it took me so long to figure that the two are an inseparable pair.

Now, that’s the only way I can write, but only to certain music.  For about the past year, I have been having an intellectual love affair with a certain singer/songwriter/all around brilliant musician.  I cannot hide it.  Everyone who knows me knows that I am talking about none other than the immensely talented Missy Higgins.  Her smart lyrics enveloped into melodious ballads are my oxygen when I go to work.  Her music floats around wherever I go, and I have managed to accomplish quite a lot while listening.  I do not know how or why I came across her music, but I am thankful that I did.  Perhaps questions like that are not supposed to be answered, but to consider myself blessed.  And I do.

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