Musical Talent – Fact or Opinion?

If you’re like me, music is an enormous (or at least very significant) part of your life.  Finding new artists to obsess over and rave about to your friends is a normal part of your day.  So when you find out that one of your friends hates your new favourite artist, the first question (or exclamation) you have is, “WHY?!”

Why, indeed?  Personal opinion is all well and good, but when you’re talking about an occupation or activity that requires some talent to succeed, is there actually a set definition of “talent” to follow?  I’ve often wondered this when my friends and I differ on what music artists we like, or even who we think is “better” than who.  (Usually, we’re talking about the musical talent of the artist, not necessarily the genre of music that artist falls under, since my friends and I all tend to like the same kinds of music…)

So is talent something you can really measure or even define?  Or is it something that must be purely based on others’ opinion and the parameters of the genre or job description?  I mean, I don’t particularly like screamo rock, but that’s because I don’t think it takes much talent to scream into a microphone at the top of your lungs for four minutes straight.  But then again, I don’t know that genre very well, so I could be missing out on a lot of really great artists who do have a lot of talent…..  I don’t think I am, but you never know.

Or here’s an interesting angle: is our taste in music (specifically our talent-taste, not genre-taste) dependent or at least somehow related to our own musical proficiency?  For example, if we’re tone deaf, does that mean that we can’t hear when other people aren’t hitting the notes perfectly on key?

“She’s pitchy on the high notes too often.”  “He has a weird vibrato.”  “Her voice is too nasally.”  “They don’t harmonize well.”  Are these facts or opinions or both?  And does the answer to that question determine whether that artist is talented or not?

I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts!

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Music: Move Me, Mark Me

From poems about music itself, to poems about the emotions evoked by a certain song, to pieces written with lyrical description, music has always been my #1 inspiration.  It has prompted my best pieces, my best lines, my best phrases, and even when I write non-creative pieces (like essays and research papers), listening to music while I write never fails to help me find the best ideas and compose my best work.

“sometimes I wonder what it is
beneath my ribs
that beats and flutters so
and rises with the words
of a crooning song
         the lyrics a cry for freedom
         the notes a bid for flight”

“I have become nothing but a helpless instrument of emotion tied to the beautiful music of the world with ribbons of scarlet and cobalt hue, strong as the chords of love and agony, and just as vivid.”

“…the music dances with wild abandon
among my wandering, delirious thoughts…

it rushes past the blued shards
of my tattered consciousness,
caressing them with a feathery touch as it goes by,
bringing the song to my lips
and I sing, sing for all the world to hear,
the sound in my throat bubbling with the beauty
of a writhing, twirling, forgotten art.

the perfection of its grace spins webs
of cobalt and ebony in the shadowed recesses
and craggy caves that wind through my skull,
weaving the bright ribbons of sound
through my very  b  e  i  n  g ...”

 “…if only I could lose myself
in the twirling play of the baby arpeggios
and breathe the pure beauty of their intricate song,
in that place where the only emotions
are the ones evoked by the crying melodies
and wistful harmonies that sing to me
as they carry my soul to the wavering edge
of their mysterious realm, which rests
between our world of tangible reality
and that realm where the stars  v  i  b  r  a  t  e
and the moon can hum.” *

Getting inspiration to write isn’t the only reason why I love music, though.  I’ve loved to sing ever since I was little, and even though I took piano lessons for a few years and violin for a few weeks in elementary and middle school, singing is the only music form that I’ve ever truly loved to do.  I’ve often thought that if I didn’t love writing as much as I do, I would have pursued a career in music.  Actually, I’ve often wished I had the time in my college schedule to squeeze in a music minor.

I’m sure it’s already abundantly clear through my posts, but I have an intense passion for art, and I count music and writing as two of the most beautiful forms of art there are.  For me, writing and music are not just hobbies or career choices; they are things that define me.  I wouldn’t be who I am if either one of them wasn’t in my life, and I know for a fact that my content and style of writing would be drastically different if music was not such an enormous influence on me.

I won’t go into who my favourite music artists are right now because that question alone has an answer big enough to fill its own post, but you can be sure it will be coming in the near future!  One thing you’ll come to understand about me is that when I get excited about something, it’s hard for me NOT to share it with others.  I love introducing people to the things I love so that they can come to love them too!

So what are your biggest inspirations?  What kind of music do you like to listen to and what role does music (in general) play in your life? I’m very interested to hear your answers, so tell me in the comments below!

 

*Each of these quotes are excerpts from pieces of my creative writing (though there are many more examples of music showing up in my writing than just these four examples!).  If you would like to read the whole pieces these quotes came from, just ask me and I’ll send you the links!  Or you can just wait for me to feature them in my Creative Writing posts (:

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Many of my creative pieces can be linked back to the specific songs that inspired them, and this one is no exception.  Music can evoke such potent emotion, and I love letting that emotion just carry me away.  As always, I appreciate each and every comment and critique!  Thanks for reading!

 

Cursive Lines

sometimes I wonder what it is
beneath my ribs
that beats and flutters so
and rises with the words
of a crooning song,
the lyrics a cry for freedom
the notes a bid for flight

it feels as though it wishes to burst,
as if
(if it swells any more)
I will rise on its current,
floating away in the wind,
the freest bird in the sky

but the cold of the world
drags me down –
the beat within the white cage
labors on,
the fluttery throb of hope
all but lost

for though I reach out,
my fingers grazing the rough edges
of my unfulfilled dreams,
they tease my fumbling grasp
and withdraw
out of reach

I wish to sing,
to let my voice be carried
to the ends of the world
as my inky fingers
dip again into the feathery depths
of the well of my inspiration,
my fingerprints everywhere
touching everything
everyone
with the words of whispered rhymes
and heart-rending tales

who hasn’t wished
for the beautiful dreams
that haunt the gold of sleep
to come true at last?
but ah, few get
the reward of white doves
and the chance to dream on

I wish that the beauty
                                                         higher

                                                me

of cursive lines would  take
as the sun in my heart burns on
longing for what?
its own song is a complicated string
of arpeggios and dissonant chords
that beg for my attention
as my mind wanders
following the flapping wings
of my fleeing fantasies

no diamond tears
or crystalline cries
will make the music of my heart
and the ink of my soul
translate itself into the weeping voice
and dancing fingers
of my wandering dreams

yet still I wail and    s  t  r  e  t  c  h    out my hand
toward something that seems
to move slowly away
an enigma of the flowing river
its caresses cold and gentle
against my bloodless body

so yes, I wait
as the condensation
of all that I wish to be
falls on the ground of
who I am.

 

 

 

~   fly me away
on wings of old
up to stay
among the stars so cold

on wings of white
and dreams that soar
show me the sight
of what flying is for

Creative Writing and the New Adventures of Magazine and Feature Writing

Well, I think it’s been a sufficiently long time since I last posted an entry here that I can say, “I’m back!”  The summer is officially over and I am back in school with a new Writing class in my schedule: Writing 300 – Magazine and Feature Writing.  One very exciting feature of this class is that I’ll get a few different chances to send off the pieces I write to (hopefully) get published!  Obviously there’s no guarantee that they will get published, but it’s still an opportunity that I don’t intend to waste!

As a result, we’re back to regular, weekly posts again!  I still fully intend to post about my creative writing, but once a week I’ll post about other various topics too, and these posts will often have something to do with a concept we learned in class that week.

In class this week, the point my Professor made over and over again is that the material you need to write a feature is everywhere – in the seemingly mundane events of your everyday life, in your conversations, the interactions you have with acquaintances, friends and family members, the effect something you read or watch has on you, etc.  I thought this was an interesting (and very important) point to encounter in a Magazine and Feature Writing class because as a creative writer, I get my inspiration from everything around me, too.  Inspiration for both my poetry and creative prose often come from the music I listen to, the artwork and photography I see, the weather, the events of my past, my hopes for the future, the ideas and opinions I form from what I hear and read on a day-by-day basis, dreams I have, and even my various moods throughout the day.

I must admit, though, that when I first signed up for this class, I didn’t really wanted to take it.  Why?  Well… now I know it’s because I was simply ignorant of what this class is about.  At the time, though, I thought I didn’t want to take it because it didn’t fit my definition of “creative writing” – it wasn’t a “Writing Short Stories” class or a “How to Write a Novel” class.  Therefore, I decided it wasn’t a class I wanted to… well, waste my time with.  Now that I’ve attended class for a full week now, however, I am very, very excited to continue the class because I learned that there is an element of creative writing here.  There may be some instances when I need to do some research and conduct a few interviews, but I’ll still be writing stories – just not the kind that I’m so used to considering “real” stories.  If I want to hold my own in the competitive writing industry, I need to learn all kinds of different forms of writing, and this is one of them.  Of course, it’s a plus that this discipline counts as creative writing!

In short, I’ve learned a lot more this week than just the definition of a “feature” and the difference between a commentary piece and a short feature piece; I’ve come to understand my position in my field a lot better, and I have a clearer vision of where my future is headed and what I need to do to get there.  Now on to the hard stuff!

My Creative Writing: Prose

Hello everyone!  It’s been a while since I last posted some prose, so I think it’s high time for another short story!  The one I’m going to show you was written going off of a prompt that I was given when I entered a small writing contest.  The Prompt was, “describe a dream-like moment in reality.”  This piece, “rain, rain with the sound of scarlet,” was written as a result of that prompt in April of this year.  As always, I’m very happy to get comments on my work, so thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!(:

 

 

“rain, rain with the sound of scarlet

I can hear the sweet sound of rain murmuring outside my window, a gentle music that reminds me of sleep in all its calm beauty.  So I sit by the window and rest my head on my arms, briefly looking out at the gray skies and watching the fleeing, scowling people.  Smiling, I close my glassy eyes and just listen to the sound of the rain drip-dropping into the shallow puddles on the pavement and plopping with a more deep-throated sound into the roof-top pools on the low buildings just outside my window.  A breath of rain-scented wind dances in through the half-open window, tickling my face and playing with my hair as it fills me with the fresh, earthy fragrance of falling diamonds.

I can breathe…

It’s so peaceful and beautiful, the wind and the sight and the sound and the smell of the rain (the falling tears, the shimmering crystals).  My eyelids flutter in a gust of stronger wind, my lashes making the world dark and light, dark and light again as they shut out and then let in the dim light of the day.  Dark tendrils of cloud wind and twist before my vision, making that rainy day feel magical and mystical, even though I know this is very normal weather for this place and time of year.  Yet, it’s so beautiful… I watch as the water running in mini rivers down the road is dimpled by the falling rain.  So beautiful… it makes my heart rise, and rise, and rise and, suddenly, hurt.

I can breathe water…

I feel as though the rise and swell of deep emotion moves my very being to the agony of inky death.  For ah, my heart throbs a frantic beat, and with such a fluttery speed that it threatens to beat right out of my chest, killing me in a silent, gasping death, my eyes wide, mouth agape, as soundless words rise screaming from my throat, only to die in the soundless air.

I can breathe water…

I have become nothing but a helpless instrument of emotion tied to the beautiful music of the world with ribbons of scarlet and cobalt hue, strong as the chords of love and agony, and just as vivid.  My body seems to be floating, my world perceived through half-open eyes that see the world in flashes of color and light, seeming to shimmer like gossamer silk and flitting faeries.

I can breathe water, water…

My state of mind is delicate, balancing on the knife’s edge between screaming insanity and the icy scarlet of calm.  Hooded eyes lurk within my soul, fighting to break free and clothe my eyes in their menacing glare.  My hand reaches toward something just out of reach and almost out of sight, the trembling muscles moving without my consent–

I jerk awake, startled to wakefulness by the icy chill that has my skin prickling with goosebumps.  With a rueful smile and a tired sigh, I get up from my little window-sill and blink away the sandy feeling in my eyes (the feeling you get when you’ve just woken from sleep), reaching up to tug the ear buds from my ears, and turning off the song that still floats through my head, echoing but still bright, like the memory of a tiny glowing thread of disappearing light…

I can breathe, I can breathe water, water……

 

 

My Creative Writing: Poetry

Hey there, readers!  Well, it looks likes it’s time for another poetry piece!  This poem was inspired by the song “The Lonely” by Christina Perri, though it’s style is different than what I write with now.  But yeah, as always, I love comments, and thank you for reading!

 

The Dancer

No sound do her feet make
Nor are her hands empty
As she treads on the polished, springy floor.
Ever her toes and ankles ache,
And her knees hurt already –
They pay the price for her dreams to soar.

She turns the music on,
The piano plays with emotion,
And she becomes like a river’s cold, clear water:
Fluidity, her slender arms don,
Her eyes blue as the ocean,
She begins her dance without a single totter.

Limbs begin to move in time,
Feet start their soft thumping,
Her whole body writhes in molten movement,
Her weaving and winding, sublime.
On each crescendo jumping,
And every moment whirling, she embodies lament.

She reaches out to an unknown,
But pulls back and crumbles.
From the motionless heap comes a little cry –
Up looks a teary face of stone,
A mix of genuine and scumble;
For she dances to escape, to run away, to fly.

Spins, twists and she’s off balance,
But still moving, so painfully.
Aches in her hard muscles and willowy limbs
Make her wince in her stance,
And dance all the more carefully.
But she dances on as the light of day dims.

She tilts her head back,
Arms lifted up to heaven,
On her knees, as if to silently beg heaven’s God.
A crescendo in the music
With the climax on count 7,
And she has no choreography worthy to applaud.

She just stands there,
Her shoulders squared,
With feet standing firm, her eyes searching ahead.
But it’s just empty air
And again, she’s scared,
For her dancing search ends in naught instead.

So she dances on with the smooth, leaping melody,
Her movements fervent, as if screaming in rhapsody,
She mixes emotion and movement with anguish.
But she stumbles, her energy beginning to languish
And falls as the song spirals to an end and dies.

Sweat and crystal tears mingle their salty heat
And run off her face in rivulets to fall at her feet.
Her thin chest heaves and she trembles with fatigue,
Looking at her shaking little hands with old intrigue
As if they betrayed her and caused her weakness.

She sobs as the CD runs out of piano music to play,
Knowing that with the darkness at the end of the day
Comes the end of her search until she’s free tomorrow,
When she can dance again in her great, tearful sorrow,
Still searching fruitlessly for the painful, illusive answers.

So she takes off her beloved dancing shoes, for now
Empty of the dancing beauty she can in them endow.
Tomorrow is a new day – but not filled with answers,
Only many, many questions, and precious few dancers.
So she’ll come here to dance again, alone in her useless pain.