Sunday, August 29, 2010

Toe Tapping . . . by Molly MacRae

Every so often someone in an online group asks what kind of music other members listen to when they write. Instrumental? Classical? Jazz? Only vocals in languages you don't understand so you can't stop and sing along? And does your music choice influence the tenor of your writing - if Miles Davis is wailing in the background, do your characters spend the day frolicking at the beach or are they walking city streets alone after dark?

My answers to any of those questions vary according to the day and what I'm working on, though I rarely listen to vocals when I'm writing. I find that even if I don't know what the members of Runrig are singing in Gaelic, I'll make up my own words and sing anyway. It doesn't bother them, but it keeps me from getting much done. When I'm writing a short story I often listen continuously to the same piece of music or CD. Does that somehow help the story have a consistent voice? I don't know, but it hasn't seemed to hurt.

Another question I like is what do your characters listen to? In Lawn Order, Margaret Welsh has a shoebox full of CDs she plays for background music in her bookstore. One of the CDs is The Gaelic Collection by Runrig. She enjoys joining the band with her own words as much as I do. A CD Margaret only recently discovered is Yours Truly by Natalie MacMaster. (It came out in 2006 but Margaret isn't always on top of anything other than her book business.) Although it doesn't say so in the book, Margaret two-steps to "Volcanic Jig" from Yours Truly in the after hours dance scene on page 250.

I'm in the beginning chapters of a new project and don't know, yet, what kinds of music these new characters listen to. I get the feeling a few of them listen to stuff I ordinarily avoid. Such a shame, but it takes all kinds - of characters and music. It'll be fun sorting it all out along the way.