May Blog Chain | Absolute Write

On May 18, 2010 by Aimee

This month, in the Absolute Write Blog Chain, the topic is music. Last month, we discussed the characters we’d like to meet from our books and I told you a little bit about Charley and Wyatt, Morgan and Aaron. Well … now we’re discussing what music we ‘associate’ with these characters or the scenes or even the book as a whole.

Most people (and I encourage you to read back through and forward as more post) … most people have long lists of iTunes music — playlists in fact that set the tone for their work.

I did too, when I wrote my first novel. But then, I shut off the music one day and wrote two others completely devoid of any outside musical influence.


Yes. 100%. If there were sounds they were the sounds of my crazy children or one of my favorite TV shows (House or Bones) while I wrote. But I didn’t add music to my life to inspire me. I actually leaned more toward what my characters inspired me to play.

I don’t have a 12 person table with china cabinet and hutch in the middle of my dining room. I don’t even own china or any pretty plates to put into a cabinet like that. Instead, that room, with hardwood floors, painted a deep raspberry and accented with white trim has a 5’2″ black ‘patent leather look’ baby grand piano.

That’s it. Aside from my kids, that’s my baby.

When the mood strikes me, I choose not to listen to music played by others, but to play music written by others. My husband has often noted that he knows what I’m feeling by what I choose to play.

Perhaps it’s Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin, a fun, quirky, upbeat ragtime piece. That might fit in Morgan’s life when she’s in a good, playful mood, but I don’t really associate it with her.

Maybe it’s Bella’s Lullaby by Carter Burwell, (oh, you know the one) … moody but soft and sweet. That I would associate with Charley during the “teen years” with Wyatt.

Or Memory by Andrew Lloyd Weber from the Broadway play Cats. It’s got soft, boisterous, loud, intense all wrapped into one. This one I played a lot during the time I wrote The Gift of Sight (trunked). It was Sarah’s favorite too.

I’m a sucker for romantic piano music, so in the last few months, I’ve played more Jim Brickman than anything else. Why? Oh so many reasons. For one, it fits my mood. Very mellow, contemporary, very romantic. I only play the instrumentals and I don’t play them by memory … I must have the notes in front of me.

But, like reading a book, I can read the notes and they translate to my fingers and with the hammers against the strings of my piano out comes beautiful sound. Jim’s Rocket to the Moon is one of my favorites. So, in this area, when my MC, particular Morgan and Charley are thinking about love, contemplating, at a crossroads, that’s what I play.

And then there are the classics. How about this one? Solfeggietto by Carl Phillipe Emanuel Bach. I actually DO have that one memorized. 🙂 I played it in competition when I was 15. And I actually played it TOO fast. :rolleyes: Go figure, hunh? Anyway, when I need fast, short and get it done kind of music, that one hits the keyboard. When might I use that one? Oh, I’ll let your imagination pick up a few places for it. 😉

Now, read on to others as they have loads of great info to share!

Stefanie Gaither
Hayley E. Lavik
DavidZahir <-- Before me Aimée Laine <-- Me!! egoodlett <-- After me Semmie

27 Responses to “May Blog Chain | Absolute Write”

  • You’ve done it. Now I completely miss the piano at my parents’ house. Never took any classes but always loved figuring out how to play it properly. I often find myself wishing I had one. I don’t think I would play what my stories inspire me. I think I would play those little stories in my head that speak in melodies.
    Anyways, great post and an interesting take of the subject.

  • Someone’s gotta be the player instead of just the listener. 😉

  • I know how you feel, I am the same. I let imagination flow on it’s own, instead of letting music create that scene for me and like you I find composers music more humble to listen to when I’m in the mood for music. It’s amazing the choices we make in creating our stories, isn’t it! Good to be back on your blog. Hope you are well.

  • So cool! I wish I knew how to play piano, I only ever learned the flute. And yay for anything by Andrew Lloyd Weber <3

  • Great post, Aimee! I’m glad I’m not the only musician in the Chain. 🙂

  • Piano is definitely my first love when it comes to music; when I was a kid, I used to play. But that was moons ago.

    The thing about Carter Burwell is that he has a good inclination to mood music.

    Also, if piano is your cup of tea, check out David Benoit. His versatility is phenomenal.

  • Glad to have you back Ana!

    Ellen — I have played the piano, clarinet, oboe, dulcimer and violin but never the flute! 🙂

    semmie — yeah for musicians!

    Katherine — Carter is fantastic with the moods. 🙂

  • We used to have a piano when I was a kid. A very old lady gave it to us – it had been in her attic for decades and never stayed in tune. I learned that Scott Joplin piece along with other standard piano pieces. But, I hated to practice. Plus, my teacher was often a tiny bit drunk and going through a divorce so I’m not sure that much attention was paid to my musical instruction. I wish we had one in our house now. The kids would have to be pried off it.

  • Sadly, my kids don’t want to play it unless I’m already playing it. 🙂 And a drunk piano teacher? Can you imagine NOT being drunk teaching people to play? 😉

  • Bravo, Piano Woman! Nice new take on the prompt. I wish could play more than the few ditties I remembered other than chopsticks. My mother can play by ear and she has one of those gargantuan pianos in her home.

  • So I don’t play by ear and am envious of all that can … though I do know how to play chopsticks! That’s the staple of first year students! LOL 🙂

  • Reading your entry has made me crazy to buy a piano.

  • If nothing else, Razib … find a keyboard! 🙂

  • Oh, I’m so jealous. I always wished I had some musical talent – play an instrument, sing, something. But the only thing I can play is the stereo. 😉

    Great post.

  • My fingers are great … for playing the piano, typing, etc … but I’ll tell ya I can’t sing worth squat. 😉 If I had to choose between playing the stereo and singing? I’d hit the electronics. 🙂

  • Glad to have another musician! Loved your post. Piano is so emotional–I wish I had one to inspire my own (though very bad) music.

  • Abby : Good bad, it’s still music! 🙂

  • Wow! Your piano sounds amazing! I don’t play myself, but my Mom does; as does a sister and a brother. My sister is awesome…I love listening to her play

  • Ruth — as long as you enjoy it, whether you play or not it brings you pleasure. 🙂

  • My mother used to play Beethoven when I was a kid. It was great!

  • My hat is off to you. I’m a violinist by training and profession, but I’m trying to hone my piano skills. I am working on Maple Leaf Rag right now and it may kill me yet.

  • Ah … Maple Leaf Rag. Perhaps try it on the violin instead? 😉

Trackbacks & Pings