The Musical Muse
A Brief History Of Musical Storytelling
Music is as natural to storytelling as, well, words to a song. The intertwined relationship between music and storytelling can be traced back to the minstrels, if not even further than that. In their time, minstrels were known for their elaborate lyrics that told tales of historical events, rather real or not. Usually, these servants made up their own stories but sometimes they would memorize epic poems and recite them while playing an instrument such as the lute.
Over the centuries, music evolved into an art all its own and its production and accessibility evolved as well. Music videos became popular and were used to provide a visual accompaniment to the lyrics and melodies. As a young girl, I was especially fond of videos that clarified the stories told by more subtle lyrics. It was music videos that really solidified my understanding of metaphors as a tool in the English (or any) language.
The Story Connection
Every song can tell a story. Some are straight forward while others can be more symbolic. This is definitely one of the
strongest connections between songwriting and storytelling. A story is a story. For some people, myself for example, any media they can use to get a good story will provide that same mental and emotional satisfaction. I love books, songs, movies, and TV shows. Even art tells a story. Storytelling is the single most universal tool humanity shares.
Music As A Prompt
Often times I can close my eyes and listen to lyrics as I picture the story unfold in my head. I can picture the people involved and create a setting. Especially songs that express a lot of emotion. Some stories make bigger impressions and I find myself exploring the context based on my own experience. Other times, a single line from the lyrics may stand out. For example, I once wrote a story based off of B.o.B’s song, “Airplanes.” The thought of needing to make a wish on a star but being disappointed really resonated with me. The story was about a girl living with an abusive stepfather and wishing for a way out.
Music As A Muse
And then there is music that simply sets the mood for writing. I write a lot of fantasy and I have found two wonderful composers on YouTube, Brunuhville and Andrian Von Ziegler. Just as soundtracks on a movie build on emotion these melodies push the emotion as I write and help me to really feel the scenes.
A Family of Storytellers
I feel blessed to have come from a very creative family. When I was young I remember finding an old, tattered folder full of poetry my mom wrote. And later, I remember her sitting in front of her computer for hours, typing away at a novel. That novel sat for years and will finally see publication soon. And then you have my younger brothers. They are both musically inclined by my youngest brother has pursued a music career. I may not always appreciate the content of his songs but his talent cannot be denied.
What moves you?
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, which genre do you prefer? I am always looking for recommendations. One last question, have you ever been inspired to write a story after a certain song? Tell us about the song and the story it inspired. I have always wanted to write a story inspired by “Hotel California,” but have yet to do so.
Until next time, scribe happy and stay sassy!
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