Musings

[Blog] Music and Story

Speaking as someone who rarely (if ever) writes without a soundtrack, there’s an undeniable connection between story and music. And I know I’m not alone– my sister and I regularly exchange writing music recommendations, and various other fellow writers and I have frequently discussed the best tracks to use for inspiration for a given scene.

Of course, it’s not just writing. Any form of storytelling seems able to reap some benefit from a good soundtrack. Exhibit A: movies. When done particularly well, the scene will stand on its own, but add in the perfect music to your thriller and what was only mildly nerve-wracking becomes wildly unsettling. And that’s not even mentioning what effect you can have by removing music at the right time, too.

Or how about video games? Sure, most of our favorite video game soundtracks are written specifically to be more or less ignored as you try to make your character look like they know what they’re doing, but the good ones are adding to the experience while they do just that. And how are you supposed to stay perfectly unaffected when the first epic chords of a boss battle track start playing?

Writing and music both aim to interact with our feelings. Our thoughts, too, of course, particularly in the case of writing. And while it’s a relatively recent thing that most anyone reading this post has easy access to both music on demand and writing materials, there’s a reason not so far removed from all this for why we still have ballads kicking around from hundreds of years ago.

Musings

[Blog] Farewell, ’21

As I write this, there’s right around sixty-three hours remaining in the Year of our Lord 2021. I’m not quite sure how that happened, but here we are. For me, as for so many others, it has been A Year, and I’ll admit to being tired (though that’s also partially due to plain old sleepiness), though hopeful and a bit excited for the year to come and its changes and challenges both known and unknown.

To send out the year here on my blog, I want to share a few of my favorites from the past twelve months. Books, movies, songs, whatever it was that I enjoyed or that struck a chord with me and burrowed deep.


Favorite Book (fiction): Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
Why? Because reading it was like taking a break from the twenty-first century to go hang out on a British navy ship. And sometimes that’s just what you need.

Favorite Book (non-fiction): Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Why? Because it’s an incredibly important and intelligent take on something that we desperately need to be talking about. It’s a difficult read in places due to the nature of the beast (death, mortality, aging, etc.) but I can’t recommend it enough. Go read it.

Favorite Song: The Light Will Stay On by The Walkabouts
Why? Just click on the link and listen! Oh, more specifically? Well I found this song while hunting for musical inspiration for NaNo, and this one slotted in like it was written for my main character. But beyond that, the entire mood of it– the almost wistful, almost resigned yet still pushing on just resonated with me.

Favorite New Music Group: The Hound + The Fox
Why? There’s a ton of amazing cover-original-independent-whathaveyou musical artists on YouTube, but these two have to be my favorite. Their stuff is gorgeous, and they’ve got a great mix of originals, folk songs, and nerdy covers. I can (and have!) listen to them all day.

Favorite Video Game: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Why? Because the storylines are ALL MAKING ME CRY. This game is unabashedly over the top epic in places, and I love it, in part because it’s driven by a huge cast of well developed characters to whom you will get thoroughly attached.

What about you guys? Any new favorites from the past year? Anything exciting coming up for you in 2022?

Musings

[Blog] Close Your Eyes

For whatever reason, I’ve never really spent a lot of time “just” listening to music. I listen to it habitually when I’m doing something else, of course: working, writing, driving, drawing… I play it constantly in the background, and I’ve been derailed from one task or another countless times by watching this or that music video. But doing nothing but listening? Sadly, not so much.

So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself wandering Youtube and listening to some of my more recent favorite songs and just listening to them for the sake of listening to them. Eyes closed, moving to the beat, not doing anything else. It was a remarkably rewarding experience, and one I would whole-heartedly recommend.

Musings

[Blog] Music to my Ears

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Sometimes, you run across a piece of music that makes you want to write something that does justice to the heroic deeds it invokes in your imagination. Perhaps it has something to with the decidedly epic music used in movie trailers, but that may be something of a chicken/egg problem– in some cases, I suspect the music does ninety percent of the work (and, I have to admit, it totally works on me). But that being said, it’s not like we haven’t been making music to move the soul for a long, long time.

Either way, like I said, sometimes you run across a piece that makes your fingers itch and your mind burn with ideas. For me, that’s usually something like Two Steps From Hell’s Empire of Angels or Last of the Wilds by Nightwish. The tricky part is that the pieces that really get me excited are almost invariably the ones that would match the climax of a story, and there’s a whole lot of work that still needs to go into getting me there.

That, or I’d need to write out of order, and I’ve never been any good at that.

I know some of you reading this are writers as well. What are some of your favorite writing soundtracks?

Birthright Armenia, Musings

[Blog] Week Fifteen, Penultimate

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It’s starting to feel a little like that last leg of a run– the part where you burn all the energy you saved up by pacing yourself earlier by finishing with a last ditch, now-or-never, I’ll-breathe-when-I’m-done sprint. My flight leaving Armenia takes off from Zvartnots International Airport in a little less than a week, and there’s still a few things I know I would regret not doing before I go. Fortunately, I have a list.

Something like one, at any rate. It’s not exactly set in stone (I keep it in my head), and I’ve been adding and removing items as different opportunities come up or fall through. That being said, there’s a few things I’ve known I’ve wanted to do since the beginning, and I’ve gotten most of those taken care of.

One of those was going to the Vernissage and picking up some souvenirs, which I did last Saturday. It was a cold day, but it was so much fun to wander past the stalls with various rugs, rings, necklaces, books, kitchenware, and all kinds of other things. It was also a chance for me to use my Armenian, and given that I came away with everything I went looking, I think it worked out alright.

As for things that came up that I hadn’t planned on, the Little Singers of Armenia (who I talked about a little bit here) had a performance last Friday that I was able to attend. They sang a number of different songs, some in Armenian, some in English, and at least one in Latin. It was a lovely way to spend an evening, and if you ever get the chance to attend one of their concerts, I would highly recommend it.

Tomorrow I’m planning on visiting the city of Gyumri for one last excursion before my trip ends, which I’m excited about. If all goes well, I’ll have a whole new batch of pictures to share next week for one final post from this wonderful country. I’m keeping so busy these last few days that it’s hard to slow down and think, but I’m grateful for that. It makes it a little easier to just enjoy being here. I’ll have plenty of time to think on the plane ride back.

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A khachkar in the park near the Republic Square Metro.