Month: September 2013
A few days ago my mom sent me a link to a version of The Beatles’ Abbey Road with the vocal tracks completely isolated. Being a lifelong Beatles enthusiast, I was excited and curious to hear what the band’s final album sounded like sans musical instruments. I put it on this morning as I was making my coffee, and allowed the three part harmonies to wash over me. It’s definitely an interesting experience to hear very familiar songs sung without the usual accompaniment of guitar and bass and keyboard. I found myself focusing on the way the harmonies built on each other, and how the different tenors of the singers’ voices blended and complemented each other. But as the final song ended, I couldn’t help thinking to myself how much better I liked the original version, instruments included.
There’s a very, very famous quote that, although commonly attributed to Aristotle, actually originated with Gestalt psychologist Kurt Koffka. I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” This is an integral concept to Gestalt psychology, in that our perception of any whole exists as an independent entity from all of its parts perceived individually. The sum is not necessarily greater, or better, but it does exist as other than the sum of its parts. A house is more than the bricks, mortar, timber and metal that went into its construction. A year is more than all of its days added together.
Here’s the thing about me: a new project is always–always, always–more exciting than a project I’ve been working on for a while, or worse yet, a project that I’m revising. If you read my blog regularly you’ll know that I’m currently completing revisions for my novel after putting it through beta, and hoping to have it ready for querying in the next few weeks. But revisions suck. They’re boring and tedious and frustrating. A new project, on the other hand, is shiny and new and fun!
I’ve been trying to be good, to put this new project on the back burner until I’m finished with revisions, but I can’t stop thinking about it, and it’s been giving me insomnia. I’ll turn off the light, and ideas immediately flood into my brain, settings and characters and names and plot points crowding together and shouting to be heard. And because it’s so new and exciting, it’s hard not to humor my uncooperative writer’s mind, and before I know it it’s 2 o’clock in the morning and I haven’t slept a wink, nor am I any closer to sleep than when I got under the covers.
“If music be the food of love, play on!” –Duke Orsino, from Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare
I grew up with music. My mom and my dad are both musical people; my mom is a singer and both a pianist and a piano teacher, and my dad also sings as well as plays the guitar and the Irish bodhrán. Music was a constant in my house: classical music on NPR with breakfast, The Who on the way to school, piano lessons in the afternoon, lullabies before bed. I think I knew all the words to every Beatles song in existence before I even knew how to read. My mom teaches the Suzuki method, so the Suzuki tapes were on constant repeat at home and in the car (to this day, I hear can hear certain classical music pieces and know what song comes next in the Suzuki method). Music was like air, all around and impossible to not consume.
I’m grown up now, and although music may not be as integral to my life as it was when I was younger, I still enjoy music on so many levels. A gorgeous song or a certain vocalist or an impressive guitar riff can take my breath away. When I find an album that I adore I will literally listen to it on repeat because I can feel the songs in my bones and in my blood. Music still inspires and uplifts me.