Did you know that in midday, one can hear slow, relaxed music piped over grocery store speakers to help the retired community feel good about lingering in the aisles, making solid decisions about choosing or passing on the new soup flavor? But at about 5:00 p.m., when rush hour is full on, the music becomes quick and snappy, keeping professionals who just got off work and are looking for a quick solution for supper moving along to help minimize congestion.
We’re manipulated everyday by music. And we use it ourselves. When we want to create ambiance for a romantic moment, we might add our favorite crooner. When a movie director wants to make our souls soar (and win an Oscar for best musical score), the composer adds driving timpani and horns while voices and/or strings stream above the pulse with a legato theme. Or to scare the heck out us, they use sudden dissonant sounds and minor chords to create apprehension, or even provoke a scream or two. A benign scene of someone just walking down a hallway can become a omen for disaster just with the right musical choice. When preachers or worship leaders want to evoke a response during their emotional prayers or oratories, their keyboardists add sustained synthesizer chords and an occasional perfectly placed glissando on the wind chimes. Anything you want to do with more impact, you can just add some kind of music.
Writing is no different. Music can grease along the writing process. It’s nearly impossible to write a happy scene with deep dark or scary music playing. Or write a scary scene with upbeat, happy music. (There are times though I need complete silence so I can think up what I need.) Music should match the style of the scene or story of what a writer is writing. Music releases different kinds of endorphins in our brains which create emotions. It’s good to have emotions matching our scenes to effectively write prose gushing with feeling.
It’s an interesting exercise to choose a type of scene to write then play completely opposite music. See how your scene comes out. It can be surprising.
There are so many online resources these days for music. 8Track, soundtracks.com, freemusicarchive.org are just three. Some sites have original pieces, some have compilations of known music. Youtube is always an option. Google epic music. You can have nature sounds added or alone just to set a mood. Rainymood.com puts rain sounds over anything you hear. Play with it. (Haha, a pun.) Have fun. Write evocatively.
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