I was listening to the radio this morning (NPR Morning Edition) and caught something very interesting: a music competition hosted by the owner of Bleeding Fingers (Hans Zimmer), which produces music for television. Zimmer created a piece of music, very cinematic, and challenged musicians to compose pieces based on it. The winner would be hired as a staff composer at the studio.
Here’s the piece of music that the challenge is based on:
Yes, very cinematic. It’s something I’d expect to hear at a movie theater. Pretty grand overall.
The contest winner was announced on Morning Edition today. His name is Daniel Suett and he’s a 22 year old composer from London, England. He actually submitted 12 variations and each one was better than the next! This guy is brilliant. Here’s one riff he took:
Very open, very grand, no? But how about this one:
I must say, it knocked me off my socks! There are myriad themes he incorporates, some contemplative, some fiery, some exotic, some playful, some sad, all fabulous.
I could listen to these all day. But something else happened, too. I suddenly started thinking about the ways music has inspired my writing. I listen to music of one type or another all the time. I listen to some because I enjoy it. Others make me feel a certain way, like Daniel Suett’s did. I have a little library of sounds, like music snippets, stingers, loops and full-out songs. I like to play them, just to see what pictures and words fill my head.
I was browsing a royalty-free music site a few years ago and came across a piece by a German composer. It was one of their promotional free offers. The piece was moody, low, contemplative. It touched me somehow and I added it to the music snippets I so frequently listen to.
I was listening to the piece one night and words suddenly started popping into my head. I was having a bad year, I recall. It was shortly after the recession of 2009 hit and I had lost my job and run out of money. I was able to get back on my feet, but not without doing things I didn’t really want to do. I had to swallow a lot of pride that year and I hope to God I never have to do that again.
In my mind the words matched the music and, by extension, my mood. I started jotting the words down, trying to find the right balance: a beginning, a middle/climax, an end. Just like music, actually, and just like a story. I started hunting down images and videos, mostly my own, although there was one I took from a free image site. Then I began to put a video together, combining all those elements.
The result after many, many edits, was a poem called “Ruminations.” It doesn’t rhyme, but I think it does have a certain oral balance to it.
So, this is my brain on music:
I’ve got other ones, mostly trailers for books or short stories. Damned if the videos aren’t better than the stories. I’ll have to do something about that!