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How Music Can Inspire Writing

For as long as I can remember music has been a big part of my life. Just like writing I find it to be a comforting thing. When I listen to music I like to think about how it would play out as a music video and how a story can come from that. Songs are stories. They evoke emotion within us and can helps us to feel less alone in the same way that books, movies, and tv shows do. When I listen to songs I like to think how they would fit in a movie. I have a whole list on songs on my phone for songs that I want to put into screenplays I’ll write. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song and a whole scene plays in my head and i know exactly what scenario I’d use this for or what scenario I think is appropriate for the characters and the story, maybe even without using the song in the script.

This is a tad odd but I find Christmas music to be very inspiring for my writing, especially old Christmas songs from the 50s and 60s. I think we tend to think of the holidays, especially Christmas, as a time of joy and happiness. But, the reality is the holidays can be a very lonely and sad time for people. While you can be surrounded by people you really care about, there are many people that spend holidays alone or they are missing someone. I think there is a very sad feeling element to music from the 50s and 60s, especially in Christmas music. One of the saddest Christmas songs I think there is that really inspires me I think is “You’re All I Want For Christmas” by Bing Crosby. I had never heard the song until I was watching “Normal People” on Hulu and I think not only is the song beautiful, but I think the context it was used in fits the show very well. In short the show is about two people, Marianne and Connell as they navigate their relationship through high school and college. In the montage the song is used in Marianne is attending Connell’s family Christmas for the first time. I think the song really encapsulates the relationship between these people and the way they feel about each other, even though their relationship is ever changing.

One of the beautiful things about music is the emotions they can evoke out of us. Unlike playwriting or writing in a book, screenwriting is a lot about showing and not so much telling. I think the songs you use have just as big an impact as the story and that you’ve written. The soundtrack for a movie helps the not only the story move along, but can also help the audience feel a better connection to not only the story but that specific scene. Songs are just as much stories as books, They have a beginning, a middle, and an end, they take us on this journey.

The other day in class we listened to “Track A: Solo Dancer” from Charles Mingus’s The Black Dancer and the Sinner Lady. After listening to it we were asked to draw inspiration from it for writing. Instantly when I heard the song I pictured it in a spy type of movie. I never used to be a fan of instrumental music until I heard “Sleepwalk” by Santo and Johnny. The song gives an easy, dreamy vibe that also feels both romantic and sad. I started to look at instrumental music as music with storytelling possibilities in movies. I think the thing about instrumental music is it leaves more possibilities for storytelling. With songs with lyrics I think we focus a lot on the words, which makes sense because it’s telling a story, but it leaves less room for interpretation. With instrumental music you can it whatever you want and use it for any scene you find fitting.

I think overall music is a great creative platform for inspiration not only for writing but for life as well. A lot of my inspiration from writing comes from my own life and a lot of my most fond memories involve music. I think it’s interesting how we can use a song to take a us back to a certain time in our life, whether it be good or bad. When I listen to music I’m constantly thinking of the story being told in that song, I like to think of it it’s own world or universe. This helps me think of ideas or lines for scripts, it helps me to reflect on moments in my life that I want to write about and help others feel a connection and a sense of being seen.

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