Writing to the Music

PatriciaBurroughs_ThisCrumblingPageant_300x200pxAh, the music. The music that fuels the fugue state when I’m writing. Never has music been more important to my writing process than now, because music is a magical gift, a power and a weapon. So of course, I find myself dwelling on the power of music in its more mundane as well as magical sense.

Sometimes the backdrop musice when I’m writing makes sense. It’s from the era I’m writing about, or the part of the world where my characters live. It helps me tap into the world and all of its realities.

Most times, it only makes sense to my muse, and believe me, little about my muse makes any sense at all, as has been addressed previously on my blog. It’s more about the emotions I’m tapping, or some even less obvious connection, yet a connection that is as real in the creative lobes of my brain as anything that is logical to the rest of the world.

But today we get to explore that very tiny corner of my mind that likes logic.

When I began researching and writing the Fury Triad, I wanted to understand the world I was writing about.  English Country Dances is the music that would be found at assemblies and balls during the Regency in which This Crumbling Pageant is set. This is a wonderful collection and I’ve often played it in the background while I’m doing other things, to help bring up the past from the depths of my genetic memory.

“Tom Scarlett” plays a significant part in the early story. I played it repeatedly while writing the scene the tune played a part in. The Tom Scarlett in my mind, in my mental soundtrack, if you will, is a bit more magical, but this rendition of the sprightly tune that makes its listeners dance is definitely its source.

However, the tune that resonated the most with me, was presented by my muse, and if it exists anywhere, I have yet to find it. I assumed it must, because it seemed an odd thing to spring from my fingertips as I typed unless perhaps I’d heard it performed this way, but if so, I haven’t found it…

But oh, to hear it as Persephone would have played it — “Llwyn Onn,” but as it was rent from Persephone’s soul–in a minor key… be still my heart.

Instead, you’ll have to do with the traditional. You might be more familiar with its English title, “The Ash Grove.” I like this 1-minute version, and I can imagine Persephone, in more normal circumstances, doing something similar. Beginning with the plain music, but then it growing more and more complex as she shows off. Because, yes, young Persephone does like to flaunt her Fury musical gift, doesn’t she?

When we were driving through Wales, I was on a mission to find a CD of a traditional Welsh male choir singing traditional Welsh tunes that included “The Ash Grove” and “All Through the Night” –songs that I remembered singing in school as a young girl. Unfortunately all the Welsh choir CDs I found were more likely to contain show tunes than traditional, until we arrived at a small book store in St. David’s, and yes, if you’ve read This Crumbling Pageant, you might recall that the area around St. David’s is a location. And as a hint, we might see more of it later…

Anyway, I finally found the CD I’d wanted, the only one of its kind, all dusty in a bin–bought it and celebrated, and listened to it repeatedly as we continued driving through Wales. So here is a traditional male choir rendition of “Llwyn Onn.”

Okay, and while we’re at it… okay, I also have to share “All Through the Night.” (Tom Jones alert!)

(You see what happened there, right? Attack of the show tunes! Aaaargh!)

This tale has a sad ending. The CD I searched so hard to find? When I got home to Texas, the CD case was empty. I’d left the CD in the CD player in the rental car.

And now, having nothing to do with my book’s soundtrack and everything to do with the magic of music–

Welsh people singing.

And singing. That’s the crowd, peeps. Singing. In harmony.

This makes me so happy inside.

One more and then, honest, I’ll quit.

A live recording, half-time at Millennium Stadium, Wales vs France. Who won? Dunno, don’t care.

Welsh people singing!

In harmony!

At a rugby match!

Wait, aren’t I supposed to be getting in the Christmas spirit? Okay, next, Welsh men singing Christmas hymns. No, don’t worry, I’ll do that surfing by myself!

Wait. Did I say that today’s post would be from the very small corner of my brain that appreciates logic? Erm, I guess we just got a nonscientific demonstration of how very small that corner is, if anything about this post followed any sort of logic at all. Ahem. Carry on!




Writing to the Music — 8 Comments

  1. It would astound me if you could not find the CD on line. I speak as a person who was able to buy the Epic of Gilgamesh, read aloud in Sumerian, on disc.

    If you cannot find it by subject, consider searching on Welsh music clubs and groups — ask there and someone’s sure to know.

    • I realized now that I can also probably find the individual songs I want and buy them that way, probably via iTunes. What’s interesting is even googling and sorting through CDs online today, I wasn’t finding a CD that had both songs on it. Most had neither, some had one or the other. Lots of “Memories” from Cats, and “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which I realize has sport connections in the UK, and not just show tune status.

  2. That is a beautiful rendition of that melody. I’ve a bunch of Welsh Christmas hymns in my iTunes library. Some are pretty obscure–give iTunes a try, Or at the least, check YouTube!

    • Youtube is an awesome place to get lost in obscure music. In fact, I did most of my musical research there, listening to various pieces of music that I used in the book.