Monday, March 29, 2010

Music Therapy

By now you've probably noticed a theme for Mondays on my blog. Over the month of March I've used the first day of the week as a day to showcase something about music and how it relates to me and my writing. At the beginning of the month I talked about Shooter Jennings and Hierophant's collaboration with Stephen King. The next week I told you guys about my trip to Indiana to see Murder By Death. And last week we had a great discussion about writing playlists. This has been a lot of fun and I plan to keep doing this or something similar in the weeks to come. I think music is an integral part of the writing process for many authors, including myself, and I'm fascinated by the countless ways the two forms of art entwine together.

On that note, let's get on to this week's musical entry...

Did you know there's such a thing as music therapy? The American Music Therapy Association says on their website, "The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals."

I love this idea, and would like to write a story about it sometime. The concept fires up the furnaces of my imagination - a musician, using his or her art to heal the sick. Now I know there are thousands of qualified music therapists out there who've worked hard to get where they are using their dedication and talent. But my brain naturally turns to a tale of the weird when I think about this subject. What if it was a supernatural sort of ability, something which doctors couldn't detect - except when viewing the rapid healing of their gravely injured patients? What if this person, this "music therapist", had been different all through growing up and finally found what they were meant to do in a VA hospital during the second world war? A period piece with supernatural undertones. So much fun to think about!

This is one of the many ways I get ideas for stories... learning about something new and interesting, then imagining a character thrown into a situation which showcases that skill (or place, or time, or whatever). I'm pleased to have a new goal of learning more about music and how it could inspire or influence me to write pieces I might not usually consider. I hope you'll be as interested to read these "Music Monday" entries as I am to write them.

What are some ways music has inspired you as a writer? We've talked about playlists, live music, and so on... Do you find music and writing as cooperatively influential as I do?

16 comments:

Stephen Tremp said...

I listent to everything from Mozart to the B-52s while writing. Sometimes silence is not golden. Silence can be deafening. Its like, hey, turn that silence down. I can't hear myself think.

Stephen Tremp

Helen Ginger said...

I can see how music could be therapy. On the flip side, if it could work as therapy, you could probably use it to harm or disorient someone.

When I write, I like silence. Although on at least one book, I had a short playlist that I could listen to to get me in the mood for that book. Even today, if I hear one of those songs, I think of the book.

Helen
Straight From Hel

arlee bird said...

Like Helen alluded to remember how it was reported that some of the terrorists were subjected to certain forms of music as torture. Or Manuel Noriega was partly driven out by be subjected to heavy rock music.

As a musician, albeit one who is currently inactive as such, music has always played such an important role in my life. And it is so important in creating moods. Have you ever seen one of those dramatic movies scenes when they are show with and without music? The music makes a huge difference.

By the way:
I’d like to invite you and your readers to join us in a blogging challenge for the month of April. Check it out at Blogging From A to Z

Just write what you been writing and add the alphabetical theme to it. When I passed that prolific blogger award to you awhile back I stated that I felt like you were going to become very prolific in your blogging. Boy, was I right! You've been posting some great stuff.
Lee

Jen said...

Thanks for visiting my blog!! I love the idea of music therapy! Music is extremely influential, it allows me to feel something I can't normally fill through my character. It helped me mold my character and now I don't use it as much but at the beginning it helped a lot.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes I do! I like to tap into the energy of music when writing. The faster the beat, the faster I write, and the better the pacing of the scene.

sarahjayne smythe said...

I can create dialogue and scnes in my head listening to music and I do that a lot. But I really can't physically write while listening to music. I'm not sure why that is. :)

Mary McDonald said...

I listen to music when I write. Some songs help with the mood/muse of the scene. For example, when I was writing about someone who felt all alone, I was inspired by Sea Wolf's The Garden That You Planted The music and lyrics are so melancholy.

hampshireflyer said...

I think music triggers emotional responses in us which don't even need language to get processed... so is listening to music while we write a short-cut to get into the right emotional space? But then the challenge is how to actually make sure we convey all that emotion *through* language when we're writing...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sure! If a scene requires a lot of emotion, I find the most stirring music I can find to get me in the right frame of mind.
BTW - all of my characters had theme songs. I wonder if that's weird?

Talli Roland said...

I love the idea aof music therapy - one of my high-school classmates actually became a musical therapist! I can see how it would be very healing.

Personally, I have enough noise in my head and I guess I could use music to calm me down and get me to focus, but generally I prefer silence. If I'm going to listen to something, it'll be classical in the afternoon/ evening and pop in the morning to get me moving!

Jenny said...

Twenty years ago, music therapy was trendy, and people would major it and not find jobs. These days it is taken more seriously, particularly in work with children and the elderly. I got to work on a recording once that a family did for a family member with Alzheimers, singing the songs he grew up singing in church, and it was when listening to it when he became the most responsive.

You know me, I tend to only write fiction in November, but I always have to find music to match the mood of the story or that is somehow otherwise inspiring. When I write articles for journals, I also have to find music - anything but classical, which I find too distracting.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

What a great post! I'm a musician as well as a writer, and I've actually written a book about the affect music has on one's life - they way when it is a part of you it will never cease to be. Music to me is like another organ (no pun intended). I couldn't live without it. Mind you, I CAN'T write while listening to it. I can be inspired by it, and then sit down to write - but never during :)

Lola Sharp said...

I definitely write with music, it helps me set the mood. I try to pick music that will work for the scene I'm about to write.

Then again, I do almost everything to music. It makes cleaning the house a lot less grueling.

I always enjoy your music Mondays.

WELCOME TO MY WORLD OF POETRY: said...

I love all sorts of music haveing been a clacically trained pianist.
I just adore the sounds of the 60s also a great fan of Irish singer Daniel O Donnell.

Good luck in the A to Z CHALLENGE.

Yvonne.

Palindrome said...

Music is as important to me as what kind of pen I'm using...that's VERY important.

In my writing group, we just recently exchanged writing music cds, to broaden our personal collection. It was a great idea and I'm glad I thought of it. ;)

Stefan said...

There is more and more research that links many learning and developmental difficulties to poor communication and synchronisation between the two brain halves. An effective way of improving the processing functions in the brain is to listen to specially altered sound or music through headphones as pioneered by Dr. Alfred Tomatis (Tomatis method) and Dr. Guy BĂ©rard (Auditory Integration Training - AIT).

Now there is a new Sound Therapy Programme which has been specifically developed with the aim to improve sensory processing, interhemispheric integration and cognitive functioning and it is entirely free to download and use at home. It has helped many children and adults with a wide range of learning and developmental difficulties, ranging from dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to sensory processing disorders and autism. It is not a cure or medical intervention, but a structured training programme that can help alleviate some of the debilitating effects that these conditions can have on speech and physical ability, daily behaviour, emotional well-being and educational or work performance.

Check out the Free Sound Therapy Home Programme from Sensory Activation Solutions. There is no catch, it's absolutely free and most importantly often effective. Find it at: http://www.uk.sascentre.com/uk_free.html.