You Got Rhythm?

Christopher Hitchens once made a point about fiction writing and music. He said all the fiction writers he knew had music in their lives and realised early on he was not that kind of music appreciator, and therefore not that kind of writer.

Plenty of writers work with music, are inspired by music and even write lyrics for others (Nick Hornby writing for Ben Folds springs to mind as a recent example) and otherwise factor music into their work. And every time I hear Wish You Were Here, I think of Pink Floyd as a group of performance poets, only with a bigger stage:)

It seems to me music can be a kind of fuel to feed creativity. Imagine watching TV without music? Even silent pictures had local musicians play the piano in theatres. Music enhances the Drama; heightens the Tension, sets the Tone, Reflects the inner life of the Character.

You can’t have Glee or High School Musical without music, obviously. Well der, you say. But equally you couldn’t have Rocky, Being Human or Buffy. And when Buffy was written without a single voice sound for the episode Hush, it made an impact. Speaking of Buffy, I was reminded of music influences when I attended Melbourne Writers Festival talk with Joss Whedon. He spoke of many things and was most gracious and amusing, and mentioned how certain formats in writing impose their own rhythm. Joke, two, three. Joke, two three, for a sitcom, for instance.

I guess there are also other considerations. Like those US TV series, which are fluffy and beautiful and continually feature 3 minute chart hit interludes over vision of slow motion running along beaches by way of filler.  These programs sold a lifestyle and used music as a prop. It was tacky. And so often in the background of soap operas music is played because of some sort of similar deal. So someone has a radio in a café in Neighbours and the message is We Support Australian Music, thanks to Anonymous Music Executive. And I’m yet to be convinced of the value of Axle Whitehead playing *a kind of rock star* character in Home and Away. Hey ho.

Music should compliment story. And there has to be a story. And if it’s right, if it’s congruent and if I love the story, then maybe I’ll buy the music.

Some cool soundtracks:
Pump up the Volume
Romeo + Juliet
High Fidelity
24-Hour Party People
Grosse Pointe Blank
Hot Fuzz
Saturday Night Fever
The Wall
Spaced (TV Series)
Buffy (TV Series)

Some cool scores:
The 13th Warrior
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Last of the Mohicans
Kingdom of Heaven
Moulin Rouge!
Shakespeare in Love

Do these have the best theme tunes ever?
Tomorrow People
Dr Who
Grange Hill (early version)
Monkey Magic
The Goodies (and also their song Run – Bill Oddie rocks)
Mash (find the lyrics, which were sung for the film version)
Prisoner (or as some know it Cell Block H)
Twin Peaks (tune by Angelo Badalsmenti – Falling by Julee Cruise)

2 thoughts on “You Got Rhythm?

  1. I agree. Music adds incredible dimension and inspiration to the creative process. I’ve been listening to Loreena McKennitt’s “Dante’s Prayer” today, over and over and over. It’s one of those songs that goes deep. I feel like I’ve been for a massage, relaxed and at peace. Perfect time to write. It actually *makes* me want to write.

    • Thanks! I’ll check it out. Another film I should add is The Crow, a very dark urban fantasy with equally dark urban music to match, plus a beautiful, haunting tune by Jane Siberry called It Can’t Rain All the Time, which can be downloaded for free on her website.

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