Monday, May 31, 2010

Audio Imagery

I love audio imagery.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate video imagery as well. Video is such an integral part of our fabric that without it, things would be incredibly drab. I am grateful for video, because video has from time to time, inspired my creativity to the point where I've written stories like this and this.

But whereas video is the solid foundation to whatever story I write, audio is the material and driving force to the story itself.

For instance, I live across the street from my blog's title, and while the view can be inspiring and breathtaking at times, it's the sound that gets the ball rolling. I could step out on my back porch on a Saturday or Sunday morning and simply inhale the early morning beauty of the mountain, but what really makes me weld a pen and paper, is not the outside beauty of the mountain but the interior beauty of the mountain.

Flocks of birds or even a singular bird chirping and singing. The wind blowing through the mountain and the gentle roar of the branches and leaves swaying in the breeze. Or sometimes, the complete lack of noise as the mountain stands there napping in a quiet solitude.

Not only do the sounds of the mountain influence my writing, but the sounds of my neighborhood and radio greatly inspire my writing as well. I can say that about 95% of the stories, either published or upcoming on FSG, have gotten their inspiration from music, with the remaining 5% split between the sounds from the neighborhood and the occasional video.

Most of that 5% is contained in just three upcoming stories on FSG:

1} Creativity Inaction. Inspired by a headache, a chainsaw, a young lady in a sandwich shop, a dept collector and a live sex show.

2} Red Strip. Inspired by a supermarket cashier dressed up for Halloween.

3} A Desirable Image. Inspired by a piece of flash fiction that was originally inspired by a co-worker.

However, the stories that were inspired by music are as diverse as the songs that inspired them. The artists that inspired them range from old school punk (The Ramones) to power pop/rock (Train) to hard rock (Saliva and Nickelback).

But there are two songs that have inspired such intense audio imagery that they've formed the foundation of what I currently write.

Saliva's Your Disease. This song has created such an intense and long lasting imprint in my mind, that it became the basis for several stories. To whit, the entire collection of stories that made up the long story "Persona Non Grata", were inspired by this one song. A lot of the items that peppered the story (the desert, the arrogant biker chick mentality and dark sibling relationship) are a direct result of this song.

The Hooters Boys of Summer. The original version of this song by Don Henley didn't do diddly for me. This version, with its stripped down beat and simple mandolin accompaniment, has created a permanent tattoo in my brain. Specifically, the image of that girl in the song has created the foundation of what my current output has been.

To whit, that one song originally inspired a short story called The Beach, which in turn inspired a sequel called The Sand. After writing that second story, it inspired me to write a story about a woman who was turned into a minion for one of Lucifer's minions. With that same image of the girl, it contributed to the aforementioned "A Desirable Image" and was the driving force behind my current novel "Line 21".

Final tally is two short stories, a medium short story and one novel. All of which originated from the one song.

The ability of two songs to generate almost ten stories between them is something truly remarkable, and I have no doubt that those two songs will continue to inspire and generate stories from my mind and my pen for many months to come.

So what about you? In what way does audio imagery factor into your creative output? A lot, a little or somewhere in between?


  1. Hum, good question. I've not thought that much about it before. In the collection I'm working on now, there is a song called "The Lady Wore Black" that was given it's origin from a song by the rock band Queensrhyce. I think I used to be more influenced by music than I am now. I used to write battle scenes while listening to heavy metal, but these days I like it quiet while I write.

  2. I'm about the same way. If I'm writing a story or a blog post, I need quiet.

    But in order to get into that writing mode, I usually listen to some kind music. Not so much as matching music to specific content, but simply listening to get motivated.

  3. It's neat that music can inspirational.

    For myself, music is just in the background - not pronounced enough that I'm actually listening to it. When I'm writing in the zone, I don't hear anything.

  4. Interesting that you treat music as background (or white) noise. I find almost everything to be my white noise, and music to be my driving force.

  5. I know it has a hand in what I write, but not sure how. How's that for vague? Hate to tell you, but I love the Don Henley version of that song.

  6. Uggh...the video he made for that song really turned me off. I'm sorry, but watching the following scenes does not connect at all with the song:

    1) Man sitting at desk.
    2) Boy playing a drum.
    3) Two guys jumping up at a volleyball net.
    4) Entire thing shot in B&W.

    About the only thing that made sense was him sitting in a Cadillac.

    Other than that, the only thing that he should've done with the song was simply rent it out and collect the royalties, because his singing style does not work with songs that are ballads.

    steps down from soapbox

    Sorry, just got a little carried away there for a moment.

    But you did give me another idea for a future post.

    You know, I'm gonna have to start giving you partial credit for some of the posts I write, simply because you give me such good suggestions with your comments.

  7. I love music, in particular Jazz, but songs don't play that big of a influence in terms of my writing. Though, my latest short over at BTAP does make reference to Dixieland music. Guess, I'm saying I don't hear a song and become inspired to compose prose.

  8. Interesting.

    I find that since music (along with reading) was and is one of my loves, I'll always have something to either inspire me or to help me get through a difficult problem spot.

    I like Dixieland. Haven't had the chance to listen to it in quite a while though.

  9. I don't listen to anything when I'm writing but I agree it is a very potent force and like you G, music has always been very important to me. I've always wanted to be able to sing - I think to sing well is truly a wonderful gift. Ah well, maybe in another life....

  10. My Grandfather is blind, and was actually more of a father figure to me growing up. So audio imagery has a little different meaning for me because I grew up around someone who relied solely on sounds to create images of the world around him in his mind.

    It's still fascinating to me to walk through the woods near his house and compare the differences in how sounds make you see the world versus what I can actually see.

  11. Jane: I basically can't really carry a tune, but after spending about a decade playing a musical instrument, I have a good understanding of the nuances involved.

    That being said, I really don't listen to anything while I'm writing unless I'm outdoors, then it's just the natural sounds from the neighborhood and the mountain.

    Dr. Heckle: Many thanks for stopping by to comment. I briefly checked out yours and added to my blog roll.

    That sounds pretty cool. Never really thought of doing a comparison like that. I know for the most part, I'm more tuned into the sounds of the day than the average person, simply because I'm half blind. Because I don't have peripheral, I am more acutely aware of the world around me.

  12. Quiet. I have to have quiet when I am writing because I have to listen to the "noise" in my head. BUT, when painting or sewing or doing my mixed media I love having the windows open, up in the studio and hearing the sounds of nature. I feel connected to something larger than myself. If I'm doing mindless work like slopping gesso on canvas I listen to music but again when I sit down to paint I prefer quiet. Maybe I'm a little "muse deaf". I need that quiet to hear what the muse needs to tell me. :)Bea

  13. Silence to me is a wonderful backdrop for me to write my stories to.

    Yesterday we went to a marsh and I kept hearing beautiful bird sounds but couldn't see them. Maddeningly intriguing.

  14. Bea: I love sitting outside in my backyard and just reveling in the noisy quiet of the mountain. A good portion of the time, it does help me get unstuck if I'm stuck.

    And I agree, sometimes the muse needs a little human quiet in order to get the job done.

    Jewel: Sounds like a little slice of heaven.

    Sometimes what I find maddening (and yet enjoyable) is when I'm on my weekly walks and I happen to pass a tree or two with birds chirping happily away, without a clue as to where they are or what they are.

  15. Music hasn't really influenced my fiction writing. But I do love music, particularly live. I've published memoir essays correlating moments from concerts I've been to with moments from my everyday life. They're a way of looking at my life through the lens of a rock concert.

  16. I actually took a part-time course that lasted a whole year, called "Soundwork as Soulwork". It explored drumming, other types of percussion, and vocalization (not necessarily in the form of singing) for the purposes of therapy, team-building, creativity, and ritual. It was a little on the hippy-dippy side for my liking, but overall it was an amazing experience and really atuned me to listen more and pay attention to how sound affects us all the time. It's a powerful force.

  17. Joanne: That's pretty cool, being able to look at the parts of your life through the lens of a rock concert.

    I pretty much now look at life through the lens of sound (natural or man made) and of music. Took me a long time to appreciate the former, and to gain a decent understanding of the later.

    S.R.: Interesting. Never really got into sound/music in that particular way (or world music for that matter), but I suppose it does help you appreciate the driving force that is sound in all of its fantastic forms.

    "Hippy dippy".

    I like that.

    Almost explains the nature of things in the real world today. :D

  18. I'm sometimes inspired by the feel or the mood of a song.

  19. Mama Zee: Agree with you there. Many a time while listening to certain songs, I've managed to come up with a few sentences or a paragraph that helped me cross whatever minor road block I was at.

  20. I love to play music when I'm writing poetry or just musing to myself. I do think audio imagery does leave an imprint on my creative "in box." I think it's great that music inspires you often.

  21. Music and the natural sound of the outside world are the basic components for what I write and what I blog, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


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