Humans have appreciated music and spoken verse since our ancestors first walked this earth. The magical quality of music is ubiquitous—spread throughout every culture and community. It’s more than words; it’s the effect the ballad has on the human genome. It’s no surprise that music is common in both storytelling and healing practices.
The Divine Nature of Music
“I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”—Johann Sebastian Bach
Studies show that music has profound effects on healing the nervous system and promoting creativity. Our ancestors knew the power of music, specifically the drum, which sounds similar to the heart. The snare drum is famous for its uses in the military—and ancient war tribes would use it to similar effect.
Chinese healers discovered a relationship between the body’s internal organs and the pentatonic scale of music. Classical, folk, country, and world music promoted longevity in listeners; while rock, rap, and hip hop produced the poorest results. Classical music has an excellent track record for treating autistic children. Listening to classical music improves focus and creativity, and is a staple for many writers and artists. Even nature sounds have powerful effects on the human brain. This is critical, given the current state of the world—and using music to ground oneself has never been more important.
Using Music for Creative Writing
Classical and world music cater to a primal side of the human psyche. There’s something to the beat of a drum, the notes of a piano, guitar, flute, or violin, that moves us—particularly for creative writers. Many describe harp music as angelic even.
Songs from Mozart, Chopin, Bach, or Beethoven are magnificent—but any classical music works fine. Brain.fm is a tool that produces entrainment music from classical pieces. Meditation music is useful for relaxing. Online radio streaming services like 91.5 WXXI are also good. Find a medium that works well for your needs.
Music in Folklore & Fantasy
With music so ingrained in human psychology, it’s little wonder history is filled with it. Namely with a class of characters called bards. Born since before the Middle Ages, bards were minstrels that sang verse and told stories. They commanded great clout with their songs, and often nobles hired them for such jobs. Churches also use organ instruments and spoken verse to bring an assembly together.
In fantasy fiction, bards are a source of worldbuilding through their songs. They can also play the magical mage trope and double as a support-class spellcaster.
Bards in Ethereal Seals
In Ethereal Seals, there is a class of Shifting (spellcasting) called soulsinging. Soulsingers use the vibrations of their voice to alter the emotions of those around them. This can grant an army a surge of energy, or depress enemy soldiers. Again, think back to how our military may use the snare drum to rally its troops.
Formerly, I had a pair of soulsingers in the story—both of them were sisters. I later merged them into one character for simplicity—and its worked out better for the story. The new character is more dynamic than either of them and uses her soulsinging to great effect throughout the plot. While Delthea, the revised character, doesn’t have a PoV character arc in book one, she will in book two. The squeal will examine her homeland in greater depth.
With music’s untold applications, it’s uses in medicine and storytelling will continue for generations. How do you feel about music, dear reader? How do you use it, and what genres do you prefer? Leave a comment below. Thanks, and happy holidays! 🙂