N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Word and Tune, Hand in Hand?

It must be something in the air or water or weather, but lately everyone in my reader (and remind me later to do a neat little update on my latest net gadgets) has been talking about writing and music and I just wanted to take a moment to chime in.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about me/friends/writing/music…

I had a very talented friend who was majoring in music education, she was able to play the piano, sax, clarinet, flute, and drums (and I’m sure many more I just never had the opportunity to witness). She took part in an experiment dealing with memorization.

She was put in a soundproof room and given a list of items she had 30 seconds to memorize it. When she was done they gave her 30 seconds of silence then asked her to recite all the items she could remember.

Next they did the same thing with numbers.

She did very well on both of these, surprising even herself.

Then they turned on talk radio softly in the background, gave her a different set of items and then numbers.

Again she did very well.

THEN they piped in a piece of classical music, again softly in the background and again gave her a different set of items and then numbers.

She bombed.

She was trying to concentrate on the lists at hand but her mind kept deconstructing the music. She told me later she found herself straining to hear the notes being played INSTEAD of concentrating on the lists. She was shocked that a piece, one that she had played often and knew well, could do that to her especially when she KNEW she had to recite these lists again.

We tried it on our own, we set up a little area (granted not as silent as the place she had been in) and gave me a list of items and numbers.

I did great on the silence.

I did great on the music.

On the talk radio, I could not stop myself from listening to what was going on! I thought I was paying attention to the lists, I thought I knew what to watch out for and was able to drown it out…not so friends, not so!

Actually, she quizzed me on what the radio had been saying right after she asked me about the second list and I could tell her EVERYTHING they had been talking about.

Another interesting tidbit with me and music.

I used music heavily to help write a short story that sold to a small (at that time) webzine. I played the same song over and over to keep me in the mood and in the mind space for the story. I did it from start to finish, the walkman on LOUD and my fingers doing the talking.

It wasn’t a half bad story, and at the end I put a credit to the song that had given me such inspiration.

Unlike now, when people like Rachel Caine and Carrie Vaughn put not just songs but playlists at the beginnings of their books, no one I was reading was crediting music in their creation process.

I went out on a limb.

I took a chance and stuck it in there.

And I got laughed at.

Respectfully, the editor asked me what that credit was and if I had intended it to be there. He assured me that sending him a working copy of the piece with my “personal notes” in it was fine, but did I really want him to publish some strange credit to a rock band at the back of the story?

Unfortunately, being new to the publishing arena and not really having a voice or the experience with which to stand up for myself, I took the credit out.

Well, here today, let me put it back in.

Thank you for the inspiration…The Cranberries – Electric Blue

Find your peace and live it…music or not!

Renee

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