Let’s be honest for a few minutes. There are times when we just get flat-out angry with the world. For some this anger is pent-up with each new offense; when finally released it has the power to level cities. For others, anger is on a hair-trigger; loud, explosive, and short-lived.
There are a multitude of emotions and physical conditions that make us not so nice people. Stress, fatigue, embarrassment, anxiety, illness, pain, phobias, obsessions all bring out our worst selves. Let the world be warned before it crosses our path, it might be entering a cross fire.
Over the last few years I’ve discovered more facets of my dark side than I ever cared to find; my ugly, angry, frustrated self. A great deal of this comes from the day-to-day dealings with my young children who have mastered the art of pushing my buttons, finding my sensitive spots, and exploiting them. This, combined with quite literally never granting me a moment’s rest is a fast track to the “savage me”.
As a writer, before you can start a session you have to check your emotional baggage at the door, take a deep breath, and dive into your characters world. The deeper you can immerse yourself, the more authentic the voice will sound, and the better the prose will flow. However, if you are strung out after a long day of stresses, checking that baggage is almost impossible. It clings to you like the two-year-old you had to peel off your leg to put to bed.
This is where using music is instrumental [sorry, bad pun]. The actual phrase (in modern English) “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast” was coined in 1697 by the Playwright/Poet William Congreve in The mourning bride. Almeria is mourning the death of King Anselmo and cannot find peace. After listening to music play she stands and gives this soliloquy:
Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By Magic Numbers and persuasive Sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown
Than Trees, or Flint? O force of constant Woe!
‘Tis not in Harmony to calm my Griefs.
Anselmo sleeps, and is at Peace; last Night
The silent Tomb receiv’d the good Old King;
He and his Sorrows now are safely lodg’d
Within its cold, but hospitable Bosom.
Why am not I at Peace?
Almeria could not find her peace in music, and it’s true that there are some pains that music cannot free us from. However, it will never hurt to try. My preferred music engine of choice is Pandora. Pandora is a part of the music genome project where it identifies all the different elements of a song and classifies it in a way that makes it easy to compare to other pieces of music. Translated to you, tell it what you like and it will find songs by other artists that are similar. You can create several stations based on your likes and current emotional state. As they play your station you can tell it if you like the current song or not to help it understand your tastes. This is a great way to find artists that play music you like.
And it’s free.
Whatever your mood, turn up the music and let the good vibes in.