How many times have we listened to a certain piece of music and had it transport us back in time? Maybe to the summer of our first kiss, the first song we danced to at our wedding, or a song that reminds us of our children.
Sometimes music can be the most inspirational thing in the world. It can lift us up when we’re feeling blue, encourage us to achieve our dreams, or just make us realize that no matter how tough things are, they always get better.
For a writer, particularly a writer who hasn’t visited the time or place in which we’ve chosen to set our novel, music can be a life saver. After all, it is possible to visit a place, less easy to visit a different time. For my novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, I could visit Ireland – and I finally did last summer. But it’s a bit harder to visit Ireland in 1850!
Enter my rather extensive collection of Irish music, mostly traditional airs. There’s nothing I like better than listening to a fiddle and a tin whistle playing the plaintive air of Danny Boy, or the merry strains of the Galway Reel. I find this music is very evocative not only of the place, but of the people, too. There’s none like the Irish for wonderful music. After all, isn’t the harp one of her national symbols?
Recently, while writing my current WIP, I’ve relied on different types of music. Since my Irish hero came to America on a coffin ship in 1847, songs like Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears were very valuable as a soundtrack to the story. And while I’m writing the “Black Moment,” I’ve been listening to sad love songs. In particular, Roberta Flack’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face has been very helpful to get me into the mood.
How about you? Is there a certain song that brings back memories, good or bad? If you’re a writer, is there a certain “soundtrack” to your stories?