We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams. We are the movers and shakers of the world forever it seems. – Arthur O’Shaughnessy
Music is the medium of the movers and shakers, the dancers and singers. There is a rhythm to the world and to our lives, a rhythm that expresses itself in ways we don’t even notice.
When I walk down the street, my left foot lands first, a little harder than the right, just as it did in junior high marching band.
When I call the dogs, each name has a rhythm and a voice. Tosha is “Tosha-Tosha Big Dog” to me. Bellator, because of the “bell” buried in the first syllable, has become “Bella-Bella Ding Dong.” She’s not the brightest member of the pack, so it fits.
For me, those are normal embodiments of music, which has always been a pat of my life – not surprising, for a preacher’s daughter. I sang in choir, took vocal music every year in high school, tok piano lessons, and for awhile organ lessons.
In band, I played clarinet. I wanted to play drums, but preachers don’t make much money, so I played my dad’s old silver clarinet, which squeaked badly and offended my ears. I was first chair in band for six weeks because Mr. Lilly wouldn’t let Sheryl Allison challenge back. (I only won my challenge because she didn’t realize that piece was assigned and had to sight read.) By that time, fortunately, I was playing a normal clarinet lent to me by a church family.
When my family went on vacation, singing was one of the ways we passed the time while Dad drove. My brother’s deep bass voice, my dad’s baritone (sometimes tenor), my low alto, my sister’s tenor (sometimes soprano), and my mom’s soprano (sometimes tenor) blended well as we rocked the music! I always thought that was normal for families driving any distance.
In high school, my sister and I were part of an eight-woman band we called The Witnesses. Carol and Sharon were just learning guitar, so they switched off chords. While one strummed a chord, the other found her fingering for the next chord. We performed for the First Baptist Church one Sunday evening. I, the perfectionist, blew up in rehearsal because everyone else was having too much fun. But the performance was great!
Clear up until the final “How great thou art!” We all sang the first two words and froze. And then, as if we’d rehearsed it that way for hours, we all came back in exactly together for the last two notes.
The audience couldn’t tell our guitarists were switching off chords. At least that’s what they claimed.
How does all this fit in with my writing?
Unlike many writers, I write first by hand, pen to paper. I’ve found it helps if I play music CD’s while I work–some classical, Gregorian chants, some movie soundtracks. Lots of Enigma, Lesiem, some Dead Can Dance. James Galway’s silver flute is a favorite, and Cirque de Soleil. These help me detach from the real world so I can become lost in the world I’m writing in, dreaming a dream as I write it down.
Music also appears in my own work, even if I don’t plan it that way. In my first novel, “Elegy: The Black Diamond” (due for publication by the beginning of 2013), my protagonist hears the voices of stones–and especially becomes lost in the Mother Lode of black diamond, absorbed into the full range of tones, layers of voices, and arpeggios.
Music is part of my soul. Singing the Hallelujah Chorus under Miss Hall’s direction–or a capella at home–can cause me to choke up, tears running down my cheeks.
Music is, always has been, and always will be, part of who I am.