Blog No. 21 by novelist Jeremy Logan -- Music in Our Brain
I write my novels with music playing in the background. It gives me so much pleasure and inspiration it's difficult to describe.
Whenever I hear something that has an impression on me I make sure I know who performed it, the name of the song, and much of the lyrics. They become branded into my brain. I envision it having the most lofty place in my memory. And when I need to recall it to my consciousness, it appears. Not so with every song I've heard. Just the ones that had an impact on me. My friends think I'm some kind of a music trivia savant.
You might be asking yourself, "Why am I mentioning this?" For a couple of reasons. First, we all have something we hold dear in our brain. I know I'm not alone with this ability. For you it might be entertainers, athletes, politicians, animals, philosophy, literature, etc. The place music holds in my brain allows it to affect almost everything I do. For instance, in normal conversation with a person I often hear words, phrases or expressions that are part of a song title or a lyric . Sometimes I respond to what I've heard with another part of the song. Somebody might say to me, "Don't you care?" Immediately my brain recognizes the Buckingham's hit from the 1960's by the same name - which is also a refrain in the song. I might respond, "Whatever happened to all the good times we had," which is the preceding lyric. Yeah, I often get a very quizzical response when I do that. Depending on the age of the person and their interest in music I might also get a knowing smile as they recognize what I've done. For me, that's a lot of fun, especially when the other person gets it. Most of the time I resist the urge to respond in a songlike fashion. I don't want everyone to think I'm weird.
I often wonder what is going on in my brain that allows me to do this, and why music. I wonder if there is something going on my brain that music and literature appeals to it.
Certainly songs are literature put to a melody, but why am I drawn to both? Why was literature so easy for me to interpret as a student? I might have an answer. Could it be that there is a rapture that occurs in each. The creator of the piece is putting an emotional experience into words and a melody. He/she feels how something affected him/her, and they want to share it, to recreate the moment or emotion. When they accomplish that task I believe there is a rapture in them. When I read it or hear it, their rapture is passed on to me in some way. It's like their thoughts and emotions are passed on to me in absolute, clairvoyant detail. That process fills me with awe. And that is why I think my brain retains it. It yearns to experience it over and over again.
So what does this have to do with being a writer of novels? The music, the performance and the lyrics often inspire me. I think I try to capture the rapture and pass it on within the writing of the story. I haven't truly figured out how to do this, but I'm working on it. I'm hoping some day I find out how to do it and repeat it.