Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Influence of Music

Or should we say the undue influence of music. You see music is powerful, unfair, even dangerous (that's right I said dangerous).

Honestly, of all things man made, I would say music is the most powerful - don't believe me. Nations and tribes and Soccer teams all have war chants. Protesters sing for unity as they are getting hassled by the man. Think about the sound of thousands of voices singing as one to the national anthem - any national anthem. Certainly we can't all talk as one, it just becomes noise. We can't all act as one, because even if we have the same ideas of where to go, we have a thousand different plans on how to get there. But if you want to get people together, get them singing. No matter how many or how diverse we can all blend our voices and sing as one. And how incredibly moving it is when we do. Who didn't shed a few tears during the Olympics at our own Star Spangled Banner? Or even Oh Canada?

So that's the power of music, what about this fairness issue you ask? Music is unfair because not everybody has it or can use it. I can't sing a lick - in fact the best way for me to get paid singing is to start up on my own and then wait for people to pay me to stop. Music is unfair because until someone creates a book with a sound track in it, we writers can't use it like movie makers can. How easily they cover up their mistakes with the orchestra. Bad dialogue, no one cares, a scene that makes no sense, no one cares, giant plot hole, no one cares - as long as that soundtrack is kicking.

Don't believe me, try watching Star Wars without the John Williams soundtrack, its just a bunch of people running around in weird costumes, Jaws is pretty much just a fish (most of the time its just a FIN) and Moulin Rouge - I don't know - a psychedelic acid trip of some kind? (wait, that's what it was WITH the music).

The point is we writers have to move the reader with mere words, but music somehow reaches in deeper and it does for the movie maker, more than any special effect can.

And yes Music is certainly dangerous. Not in a 1984, we have to stamp it out kind of way, but in a "One Bourbon, One Scotch and One beer," sounds like a good idea kind of way (Trust me it's not). In an "I can't drive 55!" is blasting through my car just when I realize there is a police officer pulling in behind me of way. And in a: "I did say I love you but Journey, Open Arms was playing and now that it's over I ah.. um... I gotta take it back. (This usually works out okay because she's thinking the same thing.)

And yet despite the power, fundamental lack of fairness and danger posed by unregulated and unadulterated music, I listen to sound tracks or classical when I'm writing; rock and roll, country or some rap when I'm driving (I know that's a weird combo); and Journey any time I'm trying to make a move. It's like COLT .45 - "works every time."

Seriously, I got nothing without it.


Sophie Littlefield said...

You crack me up, G :) Remember the first time you heard We Will Rock You in a high school pep ralley? How it grabbed you and made you think that you wanted to tear the goal post down and grind them up and eat them? I've now gotten to experience that twice - once at Hickman High in Columbia Missouri in the 80s, and once with my own kids...

Unknown said...

Truer words were never spoken.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Music? Dangerous? Probably. But in a good way. I like rock and roll, while driving too.

But when the cop pulls you over, do a quick switch to classical music. Slow stuff. I learned that from a cop, actually.

Shane Gericke said...

Great point about the danger of song, Graham. More than one type of music has been banned in the past because of its alleged power to incite. Ask any stiff-necked dad in the 1960s when Elvis started shakin' his hips--that devil rock and roll had to be stopped!

Shane Gericke said...

And yeah, I got pulled over on a nice summer day when Golden Earring came on the radio and I was jammin' the pedal while singing too loud. Got off with a warning cause I freely admitted I was speeding but pleaded it was Radar Love ... the nice officer was a fan ...

Kelli Stanley said...

Graham, what a wonderful, thrilling roller coaster speed trip of a blog--made me feel like I was driving right beside you and hearing Steve Perry.

Then Shane pulled up with Sophie, and first Queen came on with We Will Rock You and then Golden Earring's Twilight Zone and all of a sudden we were running for the border in a remake of Smokey and the Bandit.
Ah ... the good ol' days! ;)

Graham Brown said...

Sorry I didn't have a chance to respond here yesterday guys it was a day of getting things fixed up apparently - I giant rock blew hole in the air dam under my front bumper, so I had to drop the car off at the body shop. ANd then, after I found a ride I had to go to the vet. (Not for me - although I think Kramer WAS onto something) My dog had to have a few teeth pulled out.

Anyway thanks for all the great comments.