But as I said, music still definitely inspires me. Mostly instrumental music. Some people draw inspiration from song lyrics that tie into the themes of their story; while that does happen to me occasionally, I get a lot more from listening to classical music and film scores. They become the soundtrack to my story. I imagine certain scenes playing out to them, or link particular musical themes with characters. My favorite time to listen to music like this is late at night, when it's dark and quiet and I can pay full attention to it and let my imagination spin. And then eventually the things I dream up work their way into my daytime writing sessions.
Sometimes it's just one piece that I listen to over and over; other times I have a "playlist" of sorts for a story. That is true of The Summer Country—there's half a dozen or so compositions that have gradually fallen into place as companion pieces to the story, and they look like quite a hodgepodge when you see them listed side by side:
- The "Mississippi Suite" by Ferde Grofé. As with most of the pieces I choose, there's really no connection between the original intent of the music and the subject of my story. The Summer Country is set entirely in New York and—well, in dreamland—so there's not a drop of the Mississippi to be seen, but the themes in the four movements of this suite, ranging from perky and mischievous to dreamy, romantic and even a touch melancholy, match up so perfectly with my scenes and characters.
- Suite from the film score to The Heiress (1949) by Aaron Copland. Here I think there is a subconscious mental link, with the film being set in old-world New York City, albeit several decades earlier. It sets the mood nicely for my city scenes and some of the more dramatic moments that will come later in the story.
- "Waltz" from Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky. A waltz plays a rather key part in The Summer Country, and when I was first thinking about it, the beginning of this one was what kept running in my head. Most of it's rather bigger and grander than the one I have in mind, but the rhythm of that first theme definitely inspired it.
- "Jumpin' Jack Rabbit" by John Williams. A cheerful and frisky selection from an episode of Wagon Train which goes nicely with the exploits of children and a historical setting.
- "Morning" from Peer Gynt by Grieg. This lovely, idyllic number has been one of my favorite classical pieces for as long as I can remember, but only recently did it occur to me that it perfectly matched a certain setting in the book.
- "After the Ball." This one will, of course, always be inextricably linked to Corral Nocturne for me, but the particular arrangement that I have on my mp3 player has also provided inspiration for the waltz in The Summer Country.
- "Jim's New Life" from the score to Empire of the Sun (1987) by John Williams. Another lively, soaring piece that just seems to fit well with children and the mood of some scenes.
So, does anybody else draw inspiration from classical/instrumental music for their writing? Are you familiar with any of these pieces I've mentioned?