AW Musical Blog Chain

What does your story/character(s) sound like?

This is the question for the AW May Blog Chain. It’s an enormous umbrella of a question, with room to write about many different aspects of music and writing and how they intertwine. Previous bloggers have shared their playlists, book trailers, theme songs, musical inspirations, etc. But at the risk of being denied my Fantabulousness from Aheila, I am going to avoid these avenues and take you someplace incredibly uncomfortable for me. I am going to take you into my personal world of writing. Be nice, kids.

My work in progress began with the idea of a song. Oh, I had been working on something of a story for about two years already. I had developed characters and cultures, maps and history. And then I stumbled upon this verse in the Bible:

“Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.”

Psalm 57:8, NIV

I carried it for several days, not sure what it meant or how one could “awaken the dawn.” It led me to finally waking early one day and driving to the Lake to watch the sunrise. As I sat in the cold sand that morning, watching the sun peek up over the Lake, I had this growing sense that I was witnessing something sacred. Part of me wanted to shrink into oblivion, but a greater part of me wanted to find some way to honor the moment. As soon as the sun was free of the horizon’s grasp, I rushed back to my truck and penned the words that became the song. It has a hymnic rhythm and sound, as seemed appropriate to me, and it praises the god of my main character (the Ukyr—pronounced OO-car, and not to be confused with the card game Euchre [you-kerr] ). Here it is, in its first draft. No nitpicking at my lyric-writing abilities (or lack thereof). The Song of the Morning:

From the dawning of the day

To the setting of the night

You have given to us breath

You have given to us life

We will bless You, Great Ukyr

And give praise for who You are

From the waking of the streams

To the slumber of the fields

You have given all we need

You have been our strength and shield

We will bless You, Great Ukyr

And give praise for who You are

From the trees that shout Your name

To the dara’s morning song

Let our hearts be filled with praise

And adore Thee all day long

We will bless You, Great Ukyr

And give praise for who You are

From this scribbling on a bank envelope in my truck, sprang several other songs and musical traditions. As it turns out, my cultures are largely musical—as seems right to me. Of the four different cultures I’ve introduced in this story, only one of them has no music, and this is quite intentional. At present, I have written seven songs for them, though admittedly, most of them are shorter than this one.

Each culture, of course, renders a different musical style. The song above is simple, both lyrically and musically. It allows a large number of characters to sing and remember it, which is what I wanted for Komae. These are simple people who rely on oral (and musical) tradition.

Other cultures have more musical songs, or more lyrical. The Elves of Ganahar, for instance, have a fluid sense of music. The one song I’ve written for them—though incredibly short and unimpressive to read on the page—was honestly painful to write. It runs musically like a river, turning and flowing about every pebble, repeating the same lyrics. You would honestly mock me if you read the lyrics. Without the music, it is frustratingly boring. The Ilonies, on the other hand, may sing only two distinct notes, but fill it with a thousand words (no, I haven’t written a thousand-worded song…but I am suddenly tempted to try…).

It’s not the first time I’ve written songs for a piece of fiction. It’s not even the second or third time I’ve done so. It will, however, be the first piece with songs that I finish.

So. What does my story/character(s) sound like? I hope I’ve at least somewhat answered the question. My writing and my music, at least in the case of this story, have melded into one.

Please stop by the other Links in the AW May Blog Chain. For regular viewers of my blog, I’ll extend the Magic SemBlog Points to any of the following blogs you comment on. Just shoot me an email or a comment and let me know that you’ve commented.

AW May Blog Chain Links:

Stefanie Gaither
Hayley E. Lavik
Aimée Laine

egoodlett (before me)

Semmie (that’s me–and if you’re reading this, you shouldn’t need the link)

Sbclark (after me)

Alpha Echo

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33 Responses to AW Musical Blog Chain

  1. Aimee Laine says:

    “It will, however, be the first piece with songs that I finish.”
    Congrats!! Writing song lyrics is like writing poetry and that I cannot do, so I applaud both your creativity and drive to do it!!

  2. Ellen says:

    It’s so cool that you wrote the music and lyrics for your book’s songs! Are you planning to record them, or get someone else to? You shouuuld, I want to hear! 🙂

    • semmie says:

      Planning to record them? Wow. It hadn’t occurred to me, honestly. *I* wouldn’t want to sing them, that’s for sure! 😉 Great suggestion.

  3. freshhell says:

    Have you read Margaret Atwood’s newest book? She wrote hymns too. And, they were set to music. I heard her read recently and she sang one of them.

  4. Aheïla says:

    You definitely deserve your points of Fantabulousness!
    I am also very happy to tell you that you are not alone, dear! No, you aren’t. I sing so yes, I often write songs for my stories too. They usually run parallel to the story, fleshing out some secondary characters.
    I’m actually currently recording (cheaply but still) a song for one of my friend’s story. *shrugs* Maybe I’ll sing yours one day. 😉
    Great post and if you ever want to dive into my songs, I’m going through the list one at a time on Saturdays on my blog. (that almost sounds like shameless promotion but it is actually meant as a show of support).

    • semmie says:

      You are fantabulous. I will be watching your blog so I can see what you’re doing. I’d love to hear your work for your friend’s story, also. Who knows? Maybe I’ll hire you to do my music, too… 😀

      • Aheïla says:

        Oh! I’d be thrilled!
        I’m trying to get the song for my friend ready for next Saturday. Might not make it. If you want to here a bit of my voice, there are links to two MySpace pages in my blog’s sidebar. One is my Red District series (which is more my “rock” voice but there’s also an operatic one on there). The other is the band with my coworkers (we did jazz).

  5. Ana says:

    That is wonderful, that you are creating music and letting the story unveil for you in the discovery of your own journey as a person, and that of the characters. It’s wonderful to be in it, and it’s even better to unveil your story within it. Brilliant post!

  6. Claire Gillian says:

    Wow! I’m impressed. Great angle on the chain topic.

  7. Razib Ahmed says:

    It is so sweet that you have written the lyrics of the songs for your book. I think that you should give some more efforts and then record them and put in YouTube is possible so that we all can enjoy them.

  8. Katherine Gilraine says:

    That is simply excellent, to write a lyric to match the book. I cannot write lyrics for my life, unless it’s a parody.

    Your lyrics also hint at a Celtic Woman song that I heard not long ago. The Sky and the Dawn and the Sun, first part.

  9. Sonya Clark says:

    Wow, that is just too cool. Sounds like you’re quite the old-school bard, which is awesome.

  10. Abby says:

    Writing lyrics is harder than most would think. I applaud you for doing it! And I loved this post. Nicely said.

  11. Ruth says:

    Wow! What you’ve done is very different, and I love it! Your lyrics are so musical! They flow very well…I think that they must be absolutely amazing set to music!

  12. Nice to see a songwriter on here and I like your lyrics a great deal!

  13. harri3tspy says:

    Great job! I love the idea of incorporating cultural elements as characterization in your story. What a great idea.

  14. Pingback: AW May Musical Blog Chain | Claire Gillian

  15. AnarchicQ says:

    What a truly inspired moment. That’s really amazing.

  16. Pingback: AW May Blog Chain: Music « spynotes

  17. Pingback: roh morgon > music to write by & AW’s May Musical Blog Chain

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