Music is one of my major inspirations. It’s one of the great loves of my life. I listen to music at every chance I can get and devour everything put out by Overclocked Remix. I’m friends with musicians and relish in the chance to hear them discuss music theory.
A big reason why music is so important to me is because it heavily influences my writing. Not merely in helping me envision a scene or imagine the pacing of a story (or because I envision the music that would play to a theatrical trailer of one of my books! Who does that? *looks around nervously*). I love music because it teaches me to write better.
All art comes down to the same basic principles: fundamentals upon which all success is built. One of these fundamentals is rhythm. Rhythm is the repetition of a thing at familiar, consistent intervals. A rhythm can be chaotic or tight, a rhythm can be pronounced or subtle, but rhythm is one of the governing laws as it were of art.
What form, what medium, that art takes place in is irrelevant. Whether you are talking about the backbeat of a pop song, the rhyme of rap lyrics, the pulse of EDM, the visual repetition of colors in a painting, the balancing of frames on a page in a comic book, the foreshadowing of a novel, the repeated catchphrase or punchline of a standup comic, the steady speed of movement in a dance number, the similar-but-different movements of a fight scene, the subtle but distinct poses used by a model or cosplayer, it’s all rhythm.
This is one of the reasons why artists of all persuasions embrace art, surround themselves in art, overwhelm themselves with art, from other mediums. No artist – be it novice or master – can learn all the secrets of a given medium in isolation. It is only by experiencing the art of others that we can learn better to produce our own art. And while taking in the art of others in the same medium is insightful, no less is taking in the art from different mediums. You’ll see writers at concerts, musicians in art galleries, photographers at poetry jams and rap battles. We learn by exposure.
Some fundamentals are best taught through one medium over another. Any graphic artist will tell you about drawing in charcoal is an entirely different experience compared to pencil. College art programs are replete with art classes unrelated to the primary medium for this very reason (a controversial scheduling decision but that’s neither here nor there). Outside of scholastics, I came to understand broken rhythm better through rap than I did through visual studies or literary studies. Rza, Cypress Hill, and Busta Rhymes taught me more about writing than most how-to manuals could ever hope.
This is why the arts of all varieties are important. Because the purpose of art isn’t just to be ‘relevant’ or to be ‘valid’ by some arbitrary measurement. Art exists to engage the audience. It is a dialogue between artist and audience, one that is captured in time and yet one that changes. Looking at a painting when you are ten years old is very different from when you look at the painting when you are sixty years old. The painting hasn’t changed and yet the dialogue is very, very different.
There’s no telling what will inspire, either. For the most part, I don’t care for the textile arts like knitting, crocheting, and quilting (though I do love a good blanket on a snowy day). Yet I found myself at a quilting festival some years ago and marveled at the works before me. I saw a music to them that I hadn’t seen before and it would never have happened if I hadn’t ventured where I’d never been and seen what I would otherwise have never seen.
For a long time, I suffered from a certain elitism of art. Hell, I probably still do. I typically don’t care for many ‘local’ arts. I don’t like pottery or most ceramics and many forms of sculpture turn me off (that may be a function of the uncanny valley, but that’s a discussion for another time). Yet I’ve come to realize that my artistic world is better for having these arts in them.
The art world is dynamic and diverse, and through it, we learn a great deal. Art provides us with fundamentals that inspire our own art and even our life. The fundamental of rhythm need not be limited to art. Ever gotten through the day on ‘autopilot’, had your ‘rhythm thrown off’, or similar terms? Those colloquialisms aren’t arbitrary. They’re recognition that art reflects life, and life reflects art. Thus understanding art gives us a key insight into understanding life.
This is part of why I love music. I listen to music to write and be inspired to write. I listen to music to gain a deeper understanding to the fundamentals of rhythm, balance, and flow. I listen to music because it makes my world better.
All art makes the world better.
Art makes the world better.
Art makes the world.
There’s a new story in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure when I’ll premier my crime data series but it will probably be sometime during the summer. Still working out the kinks on that, and on the new serials/short stories series. It’s easy for me to start a project and keep it going for three or six months. A year? That’s trickier than it seems. I think I’ve been promising to bring the serials back for two years now and have yet to deliver and I want to bring that wait to an end. I want Neo-Romance, Maidens of Steel, and so many other tales to return. We’ll get there.
In the meantime, have a good week and enjoy some art. And if you feel inspired to donate to art, may I suggest Patreon or the soon-to-be-abandoned National Endowment of the Arts.