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iPod Research

Mumford and Sons

I am going to confess to a guilty pleasure: I am enthralled by American Idol contestant Joshua Ledet’s performance of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Maybe a better verb would be ‘obsessed.’

Since his Wednesday night performance, I have watched it online more times than I can comfortably admit. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth the five minutes. Click here.

Joshua Ledet

I am hypnotized by the passion in his voice, but also by his body language, and the intensity of his facial expressions. Every atom in his body is expressing the powerful emotion of this song. He brings chills to my spine and tears to my eyes.

It is my dream to engross my readers in the emotions of my characters in much the same way. Obviously, a very tall order.

While Google searches, interviews, books, and newspapers are great research tools for information, I find music is one of the best resources for the emotional tone of my writing. My iPod has African drumming for my Stono Rebellion research, Colonial music for my Revolutionary War story, and Gregorian chants for the Middle Ages.

As you can see in the sidebar, my story, Aroon, has the clash between the poor Irish and the English gentry as its primary theme. While walking this morning, I listened to the contemporary music of Mumford & Sons, introduced to me by my daughter. “They’re an Irish band,” she said. “You’ll love them.”

She got that half right. I do love them, but they aren’t Irish. They’re from West London, yet I believe they have an Irish flavor. My favorite song, “Dust Bowl Dance,” is speculated to have been based on Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Reportedly, the band has said they’ve been influenced by East of Eden, which I reviewed, ironically, in my last post.

However the writers were inspired, I find it speaks to my book and the struggles of the poor Irish during the time of the Penal Laws. The intensity of emotion in the song helps me imagine the suffering of my characters. Have a listen:

To me, both the music and the lyrics express the anger, despair, and even desperation of the oppressed in a way that cries out to the heart over the head.

That is why music is a critical resource. It immerses me as a writer into the feelings that create the emotional core of the story. In short, music will help me write the way Joshua Ledet sings. 

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