Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Musical Imagery (BEDA 17)

So the other day I was talking with a friend about music, and how different songs can form different images in our heads. For some songs, that image may be as simple as just seeing the band on stage performing it. And for others, they may just remind you of certain things going on in your own life. But then there's those certain songs that can invoke such powerful images, songs that, when you listen to them, they almost form their own music video in your head. Lately I've noticed that these tend to be the types of songs that really stick with me after I hear them, and the ones that I make a real effort to seek out.

For me, the images I see feel like an anime opening, only the scenes that are playing out are taken directly from my own stories that I'm writing. Anyone who's read my work can tell how heavily influenced they are by anime and other action cartoons. That's how the images start in my head before I even sit down to write them, like I'm watching them play out in an actual cartoon. And when I listen to these songs, it's like they're providing a soundtrack for those stories. In some cases, I've even gone so far as to edit these songs in my head to accommodate for timing and punctuating key moments in the song in order to better fit the images they've created. Perhaps someday whenever I get my hands on some sort of editing software, I can actually alter these songs for real.

I can't say for certain exactly what kinds of songs do this for me. Sometimes it's the powerful vocals or the lyrics that grab my attention, other times it may be the epic guitar solos or the haunting drum beats that get me. But for the purposes of this post, I'm going to turn my focus on a band who's music has been so consistent in forming these images that they've essentially become the official band for my series. That band is Paramore.

If my novel ever gets big and has a cartoon adaptation and all of that, Paramore would almost certainly have to do the opening theme. Their songs are so catchy and upbeat, yet they have a certain edge to them that really elevates their music. Haley Williams' voice is such a perfect fit, accompanied by those rockin' tunes that truly compliment the drama and the action oriented settings of my story. And when I actually pay attention to their lyrics, I find that they fit a lot of the themes in my story at times as well.

But while many of their songs have stuck with me in that manner, two in particular have pretty much cemented themselves as songs I will always personally associate with my story: "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic", which is practically the theme for the novel I'm currently working on, and "Careful", which would be the theme for the next novel in the series. It's almost fitting that these two songs also serve as the introductory tracks to Paramore's latest two albums. What can I say, they're powerful openers.

I'm not sure if any of what I've just said will make sense to anyone, because quite frankly it was pretty hard to even try and explain. But it's just something I've always done (or, perhaps more accurately, music has always done to me), and when I was talking to my friend about it, I was thrilled to see that I wasn't the only one who did this when listening to music.


  1. I love this! I always have STUFF happen in my head when I listen to music. Either memory recall or color imagery or random pictures. It's like a walking, talking Fantasia in my head when I really listen to songs.

  2. Interesting, I do a very similar thing, trying to make the song I'm listening to fit into what I'm writing. It's so much easier to write when the music goes with it, in my opinion anyway.

  3. Funny thing that I'm about to write something similar about music. You should read what I am about to write today cough *shamelessplug* cough