Nov
25
2013

The Writer’s Infinite Playlist

My playlists tend to bear names akin to “romance,” “sequel,” “action sequence,” “epic battle,” and a variety of character names. I am almost never without the pair of noise canceling headphones that were my first major purchase out of college. When I chose my last car, the sound system was as much of a consideration as the mileage and safety ratings. I rarely read anymore, but rather, consume almost all my fiction through audiobooks. The purchase of dictation software changed the way I write and edit. I am an avid audiophile.

When I need to think, I will get into my car, blast some music, and spend a couple hours driving in a loop. A few weeks ago, as the end of my second sequence of my blog was approaching, I took one such drive, struggling to pin down the next 20 weeks of my blog. As I was driving, my MP3 player on shuffle, “Skin” by Rascal Flatts started playing. I love this song because of my admiration for the narrative structure of the lyrics, and so started singing along. Partly through the song, I realized the only reasonable subject for my next sequence.  Music.  How it entertains us.  How it inspires us.  How it shapes us.

For me, there are so many storyteller’s lessons to be learned from music beyond simple lyrical analysis. After all, the main goal of a storyteller is the emotional manipulation of the audience, something that music excels at. We sing and play certain songs at landmark moments in our lives. Couples choose songs that they identify with the relationship to make theirs. There is music that makes us laugh, makes us cry, and makes us love. Certain artists have the power to sweep across nations and through the world, becoming part of our collective cultural subconscious. Some music is timeless, the same sort of immortality granted to certain books.

In short, music has power.

The question is then, how can we learn from it, and take some of that power for ourselves?

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