Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Arts

Music & Writing ~ Kissin’ Cousins


Many authors can’t even write if their favorite music isn’t playing

Some writers have special music they play for each character in their story…

Even though I treasured books as a youth and considered English as a major in college, until I got to my 40s, Music was my Muse.

I played brass instruments as a child—sang in the church and later on the secular stage.

Even when I did write some poetry or attempt a story, I “thought” of the writing as a performance nearly identical to music.

One huge difference with writing was that I was much more the conductor, weaving and integrating the many voices

Some folks even ponder the philosophic snares of whether music should ever have words blended with it—those who champion “absolute music”.

I’ve had a number of interesting conversations over the years about the relative Meanings of the music of songs and their words—each can carry different meaning and great conflict can be created this way

There is, of course, great conflict in the halls of the scholars of literature and music—much debate over what constitutes “proper” literature or music.

Personally, I find the Spirit of Music to be closely related to the Spirit of Literature—word and tone having sprung from the same human Roots

Still you can find ideas like the following (from Wikipedia):

“Also being investigated is the question of why music developed in the first place. The first attempts to put music in an evolutionary framework were made by Charles Darwin who said in his 1871 book The Descent of Man, ‘Musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex.’ Today there is active research in the evolution of music, with some evidence supporting Darwin’s hypothesis that it was used for mating and other evidence suggesting that music was a means of social organization and communication in early cultures.”

Somehow, I just can’t see our ancestors using only musical offerings to woo their mates. I feel they had ample provocation to use words as well, and the combined use of word and tone in the drama of the sexes may have been the first pop music :-)

Certainly a blog post is not the place to attempt anything like a complete analysis of the relation of writing and music-making; but, just before I offer some music:

How do you feel about the relation of word and tone?

If you compose music, is it anything like writing a story?

How “similar” do you feel these two arts of humanity are?

As you listen to the music from this orchestra, composed of the cream of the Venezuelan crop of high-school musicians, do you hear a story unfolding?

Are there characters interacting?

Is there a plot?

The two offerings are Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, 2nd movement, and Arturo Márquez’ Danzón No. 2 — And, you can read about the Amazing Conductor, Gustavo Dudamel

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What Will Happen To Print Books ?


Hold it in your hand

Feel it and smell it

Turn its pages

Dog its pages, if you dare.

I, personally, feel print books will stay with us forever.

One good sign of this is an article in The Guardian by Robert McCrum called Traditional books, dressed to kill…

It’s about publishers making hardbacks with covers that harken back to an age of marked respect for the printed book.

The standard, mass-market paperback may disappear but trade paperbacks could survive.

And, I certainly hope independent book artists survive—people like Mia Leijonstedt.

I met her on Google Plus and instantly fell in love with what she does with books.

This image is from her personal site:

Her comment on the next image is interesting:

“A dear friend and a truly wonderful human being inspired me with her request for a little book as a pendant… This one is covered in reindeer leather and incorporates a Sichuan Quartz (“Tibetan Herkimer”) with a type of jasper called African Turquoise.”

What do you think will happen to print books as ebooks continue to take the world by storm??
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When The Muse Speaks . . .


Any of you remember the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the nine muses of myth? Here are their respective fields of museness: epic poetry, history, love poetry and lyric art, music, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, and astronomy.

Are you a person who creates in one of those areas?

Do you think there are muses for other creative activities?

What about the muse of Fatherhood?

How about a muse for bricklayers?

Perhaps each person has a muse specialized for whatever they choose to do with their life?

I’ll vote for that last one without denying all the other possibilities :-)

It’s been said the muse is a shape-shifter. Which could mean, for a creative writer, the muse plays the part of all the characters inhabiting the author’s head.

Then there’s the issue of whether the muse is really “in” the head. Can’t the heart abide a muse’s process? Couldn’t a muse hang out on one’s shoulder?

My muse has been with me since I was born. She made me do things as a child that my mother wondered at and my father abhorred.

I worked hard in my twenties to make her proactively real. It’s a process called Active Imagination

She’s changed her name many times and she usually, of late, speaks to me without using words.

Her latest command was to be more attentive to this blog–make it shine

Since I know the task isn’t just on my shoulders–she doesn’t issue commands that she doesn’t help me with–I feel I can make the effort.

I do hope that small percentage of my readers who leave comments will let me, and her, know how we’re doing
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Passion’s Gift . . .


Theresa Sonoda is one of my blogging buddies.

She wrote a post recently that blew me away!

She gave me permission to reproduce it here but I strongly encourage you to visit Terri’s Little Corner, leave her some feedback,  and subscribe to her blog :-)

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It Took Me 57 Years

Artistic expressionism.  Drive.  Passion.  I get it.  I finally get it after 57 years and 9 months.  And I’m one of the lucky ones.  Many people go their whole lives without getting it.   Many people go through their entire lives in robotic motion, sans emotion, taking up space…wasting precious time.  I don’t want that to be me.  That will not be me!

I saw a beautiful human being rendered a crying, hopeless, helpless mess on a reality show this week.  The show was called, “So You Think You Can Dance”.  The man was so engulfed in his dancing that he failed to connect with his audience and, unfortunately, came to this realization mid-performance.   The poor soul ended up in a pitiful crying-heap, mid-stage, with not one understanding or compassionate comment offered to soothe his pain.   He simply gave too much of himself and we, the viewing audience, were ill-equipped to accept this raw and disturbing emotion, and consequently did not know how to respond.   What a shame!

This set me to wondering how often this behavior triggers negative/confused/hurtful response from people in everyday life…to those just trying to share their passion, to express their feelings in the one way they’ve discovered does it for them, whether it be dancing, writing, acting, art, poetry, sculpting, singing, mothering, loving or speaking…by those who want to open their minds but haven’t quite grasped the means by which to do so.   How do we all come together?   How do we all understand one another?   I just wish I had the answer.  I can only ask the questions, and hope I open some minds and lubricate the thought-processing mechanisms that are our brains.

Fifty Seven years is a long time to walk this earth and not have a passion, not have a voice, but somehow I managed it.  Fifty Seven will forever be my very favorite age because at 57, I discovered writing.  I discovered my voice.   For those of you who do not have a passion, you will not comprehend my journey, and I would strongly and desperately advise you to find that passion.   For those of you who know how it feels to write something that moves you to tears…those of you who know how a poem represents your sadness, in a way nothing else can….those of you who know how drawing a picture of the clouds viewed from your bedroom window completes you and helps you sleep at night…don’t waste your discovery, your passion!  Use it to fulfill you.  Use it to make your life sweeter.  You’ll never use it up, as long as you keep using it.   It dries up when you quit.  Funny how that works.

Tonight I write from my heart, and to my friends with love.  Don’t worry about me because I’ve found my voice, my passion, and my life is so much sweeter because of it.  If you haven’t found that passion, look for it.  Find it and embrace it.  You won’t believe how much fuller your life will be when you find your voice.

Much love from a happy 57 year old writer/mother/grandmother/sketcher/humorist/lover/friend/daughter/human.
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Two Post Mashup + A Video ~ Writers’ Responsibilities


Earlier this month, I wrote a post called, World Crises And The Fiction Writer ~ Can They Help Humanity?.

Four days ago, I read Ollin Morales post, What Ever Happened to The Timely Artist?

In his post, Ollin said:

“…artists aren’t willing to exert their power anymore, nor, I would argue, are they taking up the great responsibility conferred upon them to help people understand the mood, or at least tell people, simply:

In the words of Buffalo Springfield:

There’s bad lines being drawn, / and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…  / Paranoia strikes deep, / into your life it will creep.  / It starts when you’re always afraid.  / Step out of line, the man comes / and takes you a-way. / Stop, now! What’s that sound? / Everybody look what’s going down!”

In my post, among other questions, I asked:

* Is fiction a proper tool for purposely proposing solutions to world crises?

* Does it go against some “law” of creativity to ask writers to make their fiction conform to some response to world conditions?

* What is the role in society of the fiction writer?

Another question I asked was:

“…can writers be more aware of how their work could include elements of plot or character or theme that, even if in a small way, contribute to a saner, healthier, more tranquil world?”

And, Ollin had said:

“My end goal is to give readers hope, strength and tools to get through a challenging age like this one. It’s not about whether I’ll succeed at this goal, it’s about whether I am trying to succeed. Because that’s my role as an artist in the world.”

The true beauty of blogging is the conversation the comments can become.

Here are some snippets from my readers’ comments:

“I’ve always been impressed with the TV show, Star Trek (the original). Gene Roddenberry challenged the society of that time to consider a world with social and ethnic diversity. It was a very idealistic story, at a time when equal rights was still in its infancy.”

“…now is not the time for writers to be silent. Oh, no. We must strive ever harder to put our words down in the hopes that it will benefit, comfort, and teach some.”

“Creative people are *not* obligated to be propagandists, and most are better off not trying to fill that slot. If nothing else, obvious propaganda has a very short life-span.”

“…I try to incorporate a sense of awareness of various issues into my writing. I should rephrase that. I don’t try to. It sort of happens without much (if any) conscious effort….I don’t know how I’d define humanity, exactly, though I do think it’s much more than a bunch of individuals. How we interrelate is vital. As a group, we can build up or destroy our surroundings and ourselves. Fiction can definitely play a role in awareness. Often, a fiction story has more power than nonfiction. The message seeps in while the reader is engrossed in someone else’s story. What better way to learn than to walk in another’s shoes?”

And, here are some of the comments about Ollin’s post:

“I really think one of the main reasons for books that address our current climate is that we’re sort of stuck in this MTV-era, where only the trendy material will sell.”

“…though I would say that visual art speaking to specific world topics isn’t as widely seen, I respectfully disagree with the overarching statement that artists are not producing this type of work any more.”

“As the world continues spiraling into the recesses of darkness, more and more artists will come out with a desire to speak the truth even if this costs them. Thank you for firing the first salvo to rally the troops.”

“What I do agree with is that the power to create a catalyst for change is in every artists hands.”

“It has taken me some time to realise that the truth must out, and the risks must be taken, if progress is to be made and we are to see ourselves in mirrors of clear reflection.”

I do hope you’ll go to both posts and read all the comments–Ollin and I respond to the comments–they are conversations.

As a writer, I want to help our ailing World; I need to help in whatever way I can…

There’s a Global Art Project called, Inside Out, that boggles my mind and cheers my heart.

Here’s a video of the originator of that project, explaining his wish to help our World.


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