Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Alchemy of Song.

I adore being a writer. I love it for so many different reasons, but one of the strongest is being able to use something I’m good at for helping other people, or making them smile.

Of course, I hope that my fantasy series, Artesans of Albia, connects emotionally with my readers. I like to think I can feel them laughing, crying, getting angry, feeling sad, experiencing the first pangs of love, grieving, and all the other human emotions that keep us alive, along with me as I write. I have always written from an emotional viewpoint, and I have a hard time imagining how you could NOT write from an emotional viewpoint. I invest every bit of my heart and soul into what I write – be it fiction, non-fiction, or songs. I know from the wonderful reviews that King’s Envoy and King’s Champion have received that many readers are able to feel what my characters feel, and this is something vitally important to me. I know I have succeeded as a writer when that happens.
The other aspect of my creative life, however – song writing – is different. The addition of music to the words heightens or changes the listener’s responses, because there are two different connections going on. First you have the meaning conveyed by the words of the song. This, generally, is unambiguous, although some song writers do seem to delight in producing words that confuse and puzzle! With those who don’t, the listener immediately knows what the writer is trying to say.
Then there’s the more visceral, maybe even spiritual, connection formed by the music, which is a far more subjective and fluid medium than the written word.

With written words, readers can impose their own ‘voice’ or imagination over that of the writer, and this can sometimes alter the meaning of those words beyond anything the writer envisaged. Written words can be fickle, even misunderstood. Think of those texts or emails sent in haste, whose recipients took umbrage over what was meant as a joke. It is nigh-on impossible to convey tone of voice with a few bald words, and emoticons must be used instead, to provide a visual key.

With music, however, it is so much easier to convey emotions that everyone can instantly relate to. Even people who don’t like music can hear the mood the composer intended to create. And when you put both together! – well, an alchemy occurs unlike any other, instantly transporting the listener to a unique place inhabited only by that song.
This is what I have tried to do in my own song writing. The songs I am creating for my Artesans series are steered by each book – some exist in full within the book itself, in poem form, such as The Wheel Will Turn, from King’s Envoy, used here in the book trailer from Rhemalda Publishing. Others exist as snippets, or are only mentioned by title. Creating these is a challenge I relish.
A completely different challenge, however, comes into being when you decide to create a song for someone else. It becomes a beast with dual nature, because there is someone else to please – someone else’s feelings and desires to consider.
When I read Mikey Brooks’ soon-to-be-published MG novel, The Dream Keeper, I immediately wanted to create that alchemy by writing the lullaby that eases young sleepers into the Land of Dreams. Mikey’s prose enabled me to hear the song so clearly, and the more I thought about it, the more I found myself humming a pleasing and soothing melody. In his book, the lullaby exists only as a hummed melody – there are no words. However, my creative juices had started to run and I simply had to add some words. Once this was done, of course, I had to face the hardest part of all – I had to let Mikey hear it! What he didn’t know – and won’t know until he reads this blog post – is that I have never written a song for anyone else before. I have written songs with people, and I have worked with others on my own songs, but I have never actually created a song completely and totally for someone else – let alone without their knowledge! Plus, I had to record it on my computer, with just my voice and my rusty old guitar that I haven’t played for years!
Thankfully, the recording came out well enough for Mikey to imagine how the polished lullaby would sound. I was so relieved he liked it! I recorded it to a lovely sound track created by my wonderful song-writing partners: David Snell (my brother) and David Shepherd (collectively known as Nex’t’Nothin). I will be adding it to my website as a free download, and I’m sure it will feature on Mikey’s website too. Maybe even on a trailer for The Dream Keeper, so why not watch out for it? And while you’re at it, why not buy The Dream Keeper when it is published? It’s a wonderful book, well written, with lots of tension and action. It’s classed as MG, but it’s a great read for adults, too! I will be hosting a Giveaway and a guest post by Mikey on this blog on May 24th. Hope to see you then!

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