Music Inspiring Writing: Michele Roger
by Emerian Rich
Welcome to my blog series all about how ♫ Music Inspires Writing ♫
Today my guest is Michele Roger, a writer, music lover, and musician.
♫ Notes and Storytelling ♫
As a published author of two novels, (The Conservatory and Eternal Kingdom: A Vampire Novel) as well as a musician and composer (Finalist for Best Classical Composer at the 2015 Detroit Music Awards), most people ask me about how music and writing go together in my world. While other successful authors will tell you that they listen to certain music while they write, I have a confession to make. I can’t do it. I can’t listen to any music,with words or without, while writing. I feel very flawed to admit this.
There is a class musicians are required to take in school where they have to write down (in note form) the music that they hear played by the teacher. I have become so good at it, that even a student humming will throw me off, if I am making notes in their music or writing something musically. The same goes for writing stories. My page starts out as a plot and turns into song lyrics from the CD or radio, if I have it playing.
So what is an auditory musician with a story to tell supposed to do? Well, over the years I have developed a strategy. Honestly, I am very jealous of the writers who can play music while they write. Meanwhile, I must write in silence for the “magic” to happen. But here is my routine for deriving inspiration from music.
In my last book, Eternal Kingdom, there were a ton of hand to hand combat scenes. I wanted some music that could inspire me, as well as help me, figure the speed of the fight. Music tends to give me meter. It prevents me from rushing the story. When I have an idea of how I want to write the scene, I begin by leaving my tablet behind. Yes. You read that correctly. To write well, walk away from the work.
Instead, I pop in my ear buds and take a walk. As the music plays ( I chose a lot of heavy metal and vampire rock to inspire my fight scenes. Think ‘Concrete Blond’s’ album, “Blood Letting.” ) As I walk, the music blares, the scene roughly plays out in my head. As I head back home, I replay the same music and the scene comes in to focus, with finer detail. By the time I return home, my nervous energy is expelled, my scene is hashed out in detail in my mind and I sit down to my tablet to write. In silence.
Music can also help clear a block in writing. If I can’t think of what a character might order at a bar while waiting to meet someone, I tend to play smokey jazz music and turn the lights down in my office. Nora Jones often helps in this kind of ‘aching heart, longing to meet someone’ kind of scenario. I sit in my recliner and imagine the scene playing out in the club or bar. The music moves the story bar tender from my character, to the liquor lined up behind the bar, to the concoction she pours into a shaker with ice and eventually into a glass. The character tags a sip. The story moves. What my imagination could not produce for the character alone, the music draws it out and colors it in. Again, when the scene is fresh in my head, off goes the music and on goes the tablet where I recreate the images with words.
The reverse is also true. Let’s say I’ve been asked to write a short love song to play for a bride as she walks down the aisle. I need to put my head in hers, if I can. I will often turn to books and authors who cover romantic, young love. Depending on the bride, I may read certain chapters of Jane Austen, or some of the Love Sonnets, or the steamy works of Veronica Franco. I might ask her what her favorite book is, and read parts of it to capture a bit of her spirit in the song written specifically for her.
The process is entirely different when a book inspires music composition. Often, I have the chosen book in one hand and my lap top with the Muse Note music composing software open in the other hand. I’m humming and reading the chapters and writing the music and referring to the chapter in what must look like a jumbled up cha cha dance between paper and glowing screens across my desk. Never the less, the song is finished and printed. I take it down to my harp and practice it, tweak it and prepare to perform it. Later the piece of music is wrapped and prepared to give to the bride on the day of her wedding, after she has walked down the aisle to it.
I’ve read that music begins for very young children in the same place in the brain where language develops. While many schools of thought consider music to be mathematical, I tend to lean towards the language/music pairing as more true. Both are vehicles to tell a story and both words and melody have been doing so since humans first felt words tumble from their lips.
Michele’s work can be found:
SEARCH Magazine Food and Travel Articles: www.searchmagazine.net
Thank you Michele for sharing your thoughts!
So what music inspires you to write? Share yours in the comments below and tune in here next time when one of my friends shares their music inspirations.