Avoiding Ruts In My Brain

My dad is a serious music listener. You can tell by the stacks or records (yes records), and the kick-awesome speaker setup. That man can blare classical music like nobody’s business. Primarily he listens to music in the evenings, or on weekends, sometimes while reading, sometimes for its own sake. These habits spawned a lot of my own interest and tastes in music, though I find I interact with it in a very different way.

Music Gets My Brain To Think In Different Ways

When I was in college I was a member of the Ohio State Men’s Glee Club, which met three times a week in the middle of the day. Sandwiched on either side of this class were physics courses, math courses, programming and more programming. Singing was the one area where I wasn’t trolling through lines of code, or solving equations, it was what kept me sane. The few quarters where I wasn’t able to fit the class in were terrible. It’s not just that I like to sing, but thinking about music in particular is something that combines both the analytical and creative sides of my personality. There’s math in scales, in how chords are arranged. There’s thinking about breathing, about the shape of your throat and your pronunciation. And there’s taking those tools and using them to express emotion, to understand the words being sung, and to interpret them individually and collectively.

Music Shapes A Scene

I’ve spoken before about the soundtrack of my books. Some scenes evoke a specific song or score, others have a tone that’s expressed by a number of pieces. I rarely write quietly and alone. There’s always the chatter of people around, or music I’m specifically putting in my head. This is true when I’m creating, and when I’m revising. The music just seems to help the words flow faster. It tunes my emotions to what is going on in a particular moment, and clashes if it runs against the thread I’m working on. I’ve experienced this in programming as well. Oddly enough electronic music puts me in a programming mood, though in my early days worship music, particularly the Urbana 2000 CD did the same thing.

Music As Worship

I love singing hymns, both to keep my sight-reading up, but also because I connect more with classic influenced or sacred music. It’s what I like to sing in choirs and the modern equivalent, whether it be secular choral music, or christian contemporary, just doesn’t do it for me. Singing as worship, however, involves a very different kind of thinking about the song. My voice coach also used to go to my church, and he always preferred that the congregation not clap after he did a piece of special music. In church the song is not a performance, as it is in a concert, but an act of worship offered to God without need for personal praise. I’ve always admired that thought and have tried to adopt the same attitude when singing in church. It’s not a performance, but another way of speaking to God.

Music infiltrates all the areas of my life in much the same way that my faith does. It keeps me awake and energized on my commutes to work, it helps me to write, to worship, to relax, and to think.

How does music speak to you?


Filed under Faith + Life, Trubedor, Writing

4 responses to “Avoiding Ruts In My Brain

  1. I whole heartedly agree with this.

  2. buddhafulkat

    I agree too. For me, music stirs thoughts and emotions, bringing movement to moments that might otherwise be still. Anytime I feel a lull in writing or drawing, music always helps things flow again.

    • I like that idea of stirring up thoughts and emotions, though equally music is helpful in making us still and reflective. All dependent on genre I guess. Thanks buddhafulkat!

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