Music, muses and fingers tapping

First let me introduce a new idea I had for this here blog:  Art (visual, auditory, literary – any and all mediums) and what it shows me about writing or even just what I might love about a particular work.  Everything will be piece specific and if you have one you’d like to suggest I’d love to hear about it!  Now- onto the first post!

Take this clip from “The Piano” as an example of something totally lighting a fire within me these days  (totally worth the three minutes and small amount of dubbed speech): 

Admittedly I love the film (part of that, my husband insists, is due to my affection and talent on the instrument itself):  It is dark, twisted, depressing and at the same time incredibly hopeful.  [A little trivia: that little girl is Anna Paquin, Rogue of X-Men fame and currently a star in HBO’s True Blood]  The main character in the film, played by Holly Hunter, is a woman who does not speak; her moods and feelings are communicated through the music she plays as well as her body language.

The remembrance of the music in the above clip, playing it in high school, and now for my son, brought back to me the importance of it and the role it plays in so many of our lives.  As someone who deals in the written word a great deal of the time I have become hooked on solitude and quiet.  I no longer listen to music while I write for it shifts my writing in directions I generally would prefer it didn’t go.  Unfortunately, that has led me to rely heavily upon silence and eschew the melodies and richness of music in other aspects of life as well.  Until grabbing my Josh Groban CD from its confinement in the depths of a cardboard box I had not realized how desperately I had been missing the qualities music would so often bring to my day.

How that will impact my writing I’m unsure of but it already feels as though there is more melody, more seething emotions and a richness, a depth that had been lacking these last weeks while the rhythm of the sentences themselves has also improved.  [I don’t think this is apparent in my serial, thank goodness, but my manuscript has certainly been in such pain it’s been sorely tempting to put it out of its misery.]  The above clip brought to my mind the very things I love about subtlety in art.  It is that perception of movement, sometimes without sound – sometimes with, that takes place not necessarily in the eye but in the mind of the viewer or connoisseur.  Take that woman who does not speak- do we still know what she’s thinking?  Feeling?  Not in finite terms, perhaps, but through her music we catch glimpses of feeling that perhaps resonates somewhere deep within us.  Her expressions go further to demonstrate her anger, frustration and at times even her passion taking us beyond the realm of concrete thoughts defined by limited words.  Movement without taking a step.  Words with no vocalization and still Jane Campion didn’t leave us adrift on a raft in the virtual sea of ambiguity and abstraction.  There is room for our interpretations and emotional processes enabling, perhaps, a greater and more intimate involvement with the characters’ plight.

Have you seen the movie?  What did you think?  Are there any films you’ve seen that inspire you?


8 responses to “Music, muses and fingers tapping

  • Galen Kindley

    Hi, Kimberly,

    First, just a technical note. I couldn’t get the video to play! Oh, no. A message came up that said something like, “Disabled by request,” and to watch it on YouTube. However, I couldn’t follow the link to YouTube. So, you may want to take a look at that to see if it’s just me, or, the video setup…maybe some kind of built in copy right thing??? Dunno.

    You also asked about other than Windows video software. Yes, there is. I mentioned it in the first post of the series. So, simply use…iMovies??? I think it’s called…it should be part of the Mac Operating System. That is, it should already be on your computer.

    YouTube doesn’t care about operating systems, so long as it’s in WMV, AVI, or MPEG format–I don’t think you can upload Quicktime files, but am not sure. But, iMoves can probably save to various formats.

    Okay, sorry, about this comment, didn’t mean to hijack the thread, but did want to get you some info.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

    • kimberlyloomis

      No worries, Galen! I have no idea what happened with the video. Perhaps youtube was being testy at that point for it worked every time I tried it. Ah, technology… Thanks for all the info! Sorry I had a complete brain freeze about your first post on the trailers. In the future I would like to move back to using Linux as my OS and so will see what software is available and compatible. Of course that’s for when I have a new computer…

      Thanks so much for taking the time to explain it again to me and for stopping by!

  • Joanne

    I haven’t seen the movie, but have always heard good things about it. I love music, too, and like you, cannot listen to it while I’m writing. It’s interesting how that happens, the two passions not merging while I’m writing. But then I find that when I do listen to music, it’s almost richer for it as I’m listening purely for the beauty of the music, not as an influence on my craft.

    • kimberlyloomis

      Joanne, I completely agree with you. I recall my piano teacher talking about the first time he heard a recording of Martha Argerich playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and how he had to pull to the side of the road he was so moved by it. And that’s the space I inhabit with it as well- excepting I do not listen to classical music while driving for that reason alone. Ultimately good music, like any other art, is something with the ability to move and change us and our direct and constant contact with it is not a requisite for that impact to take hold.

  • Carol Kilgore

    I had the same problem that Galen did.

    But even without watching/listening to the clip your post gave me an idea. Sometimes I have a problem with the way my words sound when I read them aloud. What sounds perfect in my mind is godawful when I read it for my physical ears. The next time that happens I’m going to put on some music that fits the tone of the scene and play it while I go over it. Maybe that will help.


    • kimberlyloomis

      I’m totally with you on that, Carol. My poor husband has to listen to me read it aloud sometimes. Okay, he has to hear it a lot since I get halfway through something only to stop and make changes, then try again. It’s a great approach. Let me know how it works for you. 🙂

  • Jan

    I had no problem getting it to play on youtube. Probably because my little Micky Mouse computer is microsoft attuned.
    I adore the piano music from this movie although overall the plot was so depressing it made me want to cry simply remembering it. Listening to it and reading your blog entry (which was lyrical) reminded me that when I was in 8th grade the “dorkiest” nun in the school put on classical music for us. Not only that but she taught us to listen to it for the emotion it was expressing. I always appreciated those lessons and always played classical music when painting or sculpting. Even now, I am very fussy about the music I play for my clients when in session.
    There always seems to come a point when the music lifts me out of myself and into another realm. I taught my art students with music on for years and was myself taught to draw and sculpt with classical music and then blues and jazz music. I once read that music transports you to another level of existence (literally not only figuratively) and it has been proven that certain kinds of music not only change your mood but your body chemistry!

    • kimberlyloomis

      Thank you for the compliment, Jan. I can’t help this attraction I have to what some would consider morose. It is the emotion that always hooks me into music. Probably why I love the romantic era composers as much as I do. Sturm und Drang- it is, seemingly, in my blood. I still can’t write to music but it does work wonders when I need to get my mind into a certain space and it just won’t get there on its own.

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