Friday, May 11, 2012

Music as Plot

My current WIP includes a method of psychoanalysis I created, which I call “Music Therapy.” I don’t go into the technical aspects or attempt to dive into any of the academics behind this controversial method (for the year 2035). I just go with it.

Even in my WIP, it’s a border science.( I’m aware that there is a legitimate theory of music therapy. I believe it involves working with autistic children and those suffering from some forms of dementia.)

In Almost Human, it is a form of emotional therapy. Where the playlist of an individual is used to diagnose and help them discover, through what it evoked from their playlist, the heart of what troubles them. And through music, they find the path toward healing.

Now, I often listen to music, as do most of us, when I write. I don’t actually put together a playlist, but music plays a big part in pushing me to the emotional limits I want to reach with my characters. Music is an energy I love to play with.

I also love creating some new pseudo-science when I write. It isn’t tachyon emissions, (thank you, Star Trek) or the immensely useful sonic screwdriver (thank you, Dr. Who) but it is a lot of fun to create something that sounds scientific and legit. In The Chameleon Goggles, I invented solar thread. The best passive solar system out there, woven into every flag, banner, line and sail on Tortuga!

In Almost Human, I have Music Therapy and solar skin. (Solar skin powers an electric high performance motorcycle…charging its battery. It’s part of the paint job, the motorcycle gear, the helmets…one of those things I hope someone invents eventually.)

At the present scenes I’m working on, my lead character is undergoing musical therapy and part of the challenge I’m facing is putting together an emotional landscape for her that involves a playlist. She’s from the current era and it’s easy to find the angst ridden songs…harder to remember the more subtle things…the song she associates with meeting her husband. The song playing when she discovered he’d cheated on her…

Music is so subjective and what one person picks up on isn’t what another person picks up on. Happens with everything. A favorite John Nichols quote of mine fills me with intense hope, but a person I shared it with found it endlessly depressing… You just can’t tell!

Same with music…where you were when you heard something, what was going on around you. I generally don’t really even hear lyrics the first dozen times I listen to a song. Or I pick up bits and pieces and only later will I begin to really HEAR the words. I pick up on the dynamic from the initial music.

Putting together Ria’s suicide music is easy. Music that articulates her struggle to rediscover her humanity wasn’t terribly hard (lots of music out there that deals with feeling isolated from everyone else.) Finding her songs of hope is proving difficult. Searching out the right ones to evoke her rage regarding her late husband? I need something with words that evoke the betrayal and loss... Hmmmmm!

Anyone else ever put any thought into what a character’s playlist would look like? Any suggestions to fill in my missing pieces?


TerriOsburn said...

I don't think you should limit the playlist to songs of her time. For two reasons. Copyright being the first. Fine line with how much of the lyrics you can include. You figure, we're still listening to music written 200 years ago. So why wouldn't they still be listening to that music in 2035? Or at least have access to it.

I'm not a scholar of classical music, but I know it moves me every time I hear it. The way it evokes emotion is what I'd like to do with words. And you can find something for every emotion.

What if she and hubby attended an opera? If she realized his mistress was in the seats below, watching them in their private box. Came to learn he'd brought her to that private box and made a fool of Ria in public.

For these BIG emotions, I'd suggest looking at something without lyrics. And that's something considering I'm a lover of lyrics. HOW can you listen to a song and not hear the lyrics? LOL!

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Chance - very cool!

What kind of music is she listening to? What type of things did she and her husband do? This would affect which type of music or songs she would attach to.

Then I can see if anything pops up for me to suggest.

Maureen said...

I don't know opera...and not sure I'm up for the research into that... She's more the hard rock, wall-of-sound sort, but for this bit of music, I don't know. I may want to use something from a musical...

For example, I've had a song from Kate Bush in my head the last few days and that may end up fitting... "...running up the road, running up the hill, runing up the building..." I like the futility of the lyrics.

Ter - I heard lyrics, but they usually don't fall into place until I know the song better, when the ears are more used the music, they can differentiate the actual words... ;-)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

This is one of my top 5 favorite songs and really emotional for me. Here's a link to the lyrics - i'ts from a male perspective, but it always struck me too.

I'll think of more. Including something angry. :)

JulieJustJulie said...

Backstabbers- O'Jays
Smiling Faces
The first cut is the deepest
Betrayer by Kreator
I Don't Care Anymore - Phil Collins
Fake Friends - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
My Immortal - Evanescence
Please Don't Judas Me - Nazareth
No, You Don't by NINE INCH NAILS (gotta love the angry drum beat)
Don't Stay by Linkin Park ( great angry lyrics, check out vid )

Maureen said...

Nice lyrics, Scape. I need to listen to the song... Very evocative!

Julie...First Cut is the Deepest, so true! I need to listen to this one all the way through. And I bet Phil has a bunch...

TerriOsburn said...

Breaking Benjamin is great for angry stuff. So is Seether. You like Evanescence so I think you'd like both of these.

Try this one as an intro to Breaking Benjamin >

This one would be good for the resolution of the resolution, based on what you've told me. It's The Reason by Hoobastank.

TerriOsburn said...

The resolution of the resolution. Nice. And I'm not even drinking.

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Chance - here's a Youtube of the original song but there are tons of great live versions too. His voice is AMAZING - cannot recommend any of his songs highly enough.

JulieJustJulie said...

Classical? Goota love

The first part from Rossini's popular overture to William Tell sounds like "I've had enough & I'm going to come back fighting" to me.
Toooo campy?
Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture
is one of my favorite pieces the intensity it "builds" up in volume and emotional.
Plus the percussions ( ie real gun shots when performed as written )0

Maureen said...

Am I the only one who can't just click on the links? ARGH!

JulieJustJulie said...

Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture (Finale)with the , in this case it sounds like cannons ... very Pirate.

Maureen said...

Ter - I just downloading Breaking Benjamin's Until the End. Very appropriate!

Sabrina, yup, very nice voice. Unusual!

Jules - I may look at some of the classic classicals!

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

No Chance- I just never remember to make them actual links. Sorry!

Maureen said...

No, I can't click on any of the links... It's not just yours, Scape!

Maureen said...

Yup, Terri - The Reason would work for the resolution of the resolutions! ;-)

JulieJustJulie said...

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Have You Ever Seen The Rain?
Great life is hard song.

JulieJustJulie said...

Wonderful lyrics like
"Someone told me long ago
There's a calm before the storm,
I know; it's been comin' for some time.
When it's over, so they say,
It'll rain a sunny day,
I know; shinin' down like water."


Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

Oh I love that song Julie.

MsHellion said...

I think it's always easy to find the angst songs first. Like it's always easier to make someone cry than it is to make them laugh. The things that hurt us are pretty much the same--but hope and happiness can be found in things that might be obvious to one, but would never be found by another.

I love "Bittersweet Symphony" and "Hallelujah"; I love both soundtracks from the 2nd and 3rd movies of Twilight; I listen to them a lot.

Maureen said...

So right, Hels...there are numerous songs about pain. And more and more of anger, which I'm looking for.

Songs of celebration and joy are fewer and far between. More classical touches upon that. We are a cynical society and look upon the words of joy with a wearied bit of tolerance.

It's a sad statement on society.

Janga said...

I'll be thinking about songs that fit all day now, Chance, and trying to remember which song goes with which bit of lyric that surfaces in my mind.

I know Melissa Ethridge's "I Run for Life" is linked to breast cancer, but I think the meaning of the lyrics is larger than a single disease or cause. "Dare You to Move" by Switchfoot is a great challenge/hang on to hope song.

Maureen said...

Oh, wow. Janga... "Dare You to Move"...fabulous!


TerriOsburn said...

Sorry. I never think to make them links either. Actually, I don't even know how to do that on here.

Janga, I love both of those songs. I have classical stuff on my iPod so I'll see what I can find. Though Julie is on it! LOL! And soundtracks are always good too. Find a scene in a movie that evoked the same emotion then see if you can find that same snippet of music.

Now I have to google Bittersweet Symphony. I heard it a couple days ago and cannot remember who sings it. Been driving me nuts!

The Verve! Now I feel better.

Janga said...

I was thinking about the betrayal and loss question. Chance, do you know Mary Chapin Carpenter's "The End of My Pirate Days"? It always moves me to tears.

And if I've seen his face since then,
It's only been in dreams my friend,
Since I came to the end of my pirate days.

Maureen said...

It really works, Janga. I see it more as a kicking her in the ass song, to get up and move on. And it will work perfectly for a scene I just came up with last night. When she faces exactly how betrayed she feels. She's been very nonchalant about it, very worldly...suddenly, her persective will shift and she'll realize how deeply it cut into her.

And how it has haunted her,even into her second life. This is gonna be fun...

Maureen said...

End of My Pirate, I could spin an entirely 'nother book out of that. Nice!

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

ooh - what about jar of hearts?

P. Kirby said...

Sayeth: Maureen: Kate Bush in my head the last few days and that may end up fitting... "...running up the road, running up the hill, runing up the building..."

The cover of that song by Placebo is really cool. (It's in my current WIP's playlist.)

Definitely a big fan of Breaking Benjamin, although none of there stuff is in my current playlist. Most of my BB stuff comes off of Dear Agony and Phobia CDs.

For a hard crunchy band, Five Finger Death punch does angst well: "Remember Everything" and "Far From Home," in particular, both songs being essentially appeals for forgiveness.

"Snuff" by Slipnot is a great combination of angst with a touch of regretful anger. I really love the lyrics on this one.

"The Monster You Made" by Pop Evil is high on my WIP playlist because it feels very apropos for my villain-hero. But it might work on the lyrics can work for any character who's had been shaped into something they don't like by life.

"My Medea" by Vienna Tang (a terribly underrated artist) is a fabulous song about destroying what you love.

"Life is Beautiful" by Sixx:A.M (Nikki Sixx) is a dark and inspirational song about hitting bottom and pulling yourself back out.

My love song for the past two novels has been Fisher's "I Will Love You," which is aching with the vulnerability of love. Fisher's "Too Late," alternately, is a great black as night moment song.

The two most upbeat songs on the current playlist are Elizaveta's "Dreamer," "Courage" by Orianthi and "Moving On" by Sarah Dawn Finer.

Obviously, I can go on for days about music. Tried to add in some links, but Blogger's not having it. All of the above are easy to find on YouTube.

TerriOsburn said...

And thanks to Pat I'm going to be hunting all of these artists up on iTunes tonight. LOL! I like to think I know about music, then people like you come along and remind me I don't know anything.

Maureen said...

Yeah, I feel the same way, Bosun! Pat already gave me a great list to check out a few weeks ago and I've been working my way through them... Now I get to start again!

This is when I wish I were getting the individual e-mails again...

I dug out some October Project and there's a few in there that really fit...and wow, I forgot how much I loved that band...sigh. How come all the great ones break up?

Maureen said...

Took me awhile, but I listened to them all. Loved Elizaveta...and the first group. Five Finger Death...great vocalist!