Why Music Matters

Ya know, I don’t think I’ve ever really explained my fixation on music.

Every Friday I spend an entire blog post talking about music. Mostly as it relates to anime, which, lets face it, is what most of you guys are here for. I give time to OP’s, ED’s, the good and the bad, and why. I talk about entire soundtracks, and composers, and the themes, ideas, and emotions that go into making the ones that really work well. Every series I review, I take the time to talk about the music used, who wrote it, and how well it works in relation to the show itself.

But I’ve never really talked about why I do this. Why it is I treat music as so special and important.

First of all, let me say that I’m not a musician. I’m actually tone deaf, so I’ve never been able to learn how to play an instrument, which has always saddened me. I would love to be able to at least play, even if I couldn’t write music. So it isn’t that I feel a special connection to the musicians who write for anime, or musicians in general.

It’s because music is storytelling, with notes and instruments, with lyrics and emotions. As a writer, I craft worlds and characters with words. Rather than seeing myself as some great, undiscovered artist, I think of myself as a storyteller, and in music, I found another way of telling a story. One that influenced me greatly as I honed my own craft.

Back when I was young, after my parents divorced, I was exposed to two very different tastes in music. My father loved classical, and all things classic. He introduced me to Mozart, The Righteous Brothers, The Temptations, Frank Sinatra, and opera. My mother had no taste for such things, but introduced me to other greats. Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, and more.

As I was heading into my teen years, my older brother brought in a new flavor, rock and roll. Ozzy Osborne, Metallica, AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, and the rest of the huge hair metal bands of the 80’s. Each of these different influences, I absorbed, and found things about I loved.

Because what I really was, in the end, was a music lover. I just really love music, and the amazing power it has to tell a story in a way I never could.

As I got older, and my taste in music kept expanding, one day to include Japanese musicians as my love of anime became a full fledged part of my life, I began really listening to music as I wrote. More than that, I started looking for music that spoke to what I was wanting to write.

Back in the 90’s, I would compile mix tapes of songs that evoked the emotions in me I wanted to put into my work. Later, I built playlists, and as MP3 payers became common, started taking that music to work with me so I could listen, and craft the story I was working on even without a keyboard in front of me.

Over the years, music has become an integral part of writing process, one I can’t do without. Every month, as I write Bill & Kris, Petalwynd, and Warsong, I have different playlists that I put on for each. I have vastly different ones for when I’m working on War Witch, or my zombie novels, Bunnypocalypse. Each is important, and working is hard without them going.

Because music moves us like nothing else can. It is a direct line to our emotional core. It speaks to us on that almost primal level. We know what music is saying, just from how it sounds. It keys us into the intent in a way even words can’t, and never will be able to.

Many of my playlists for everything I work on includes music from anime soundtracks. The work of Yuki Kajiura, Takanashi Yasuharu are especially powerful for me, but the soundtracks to mediocre shows like Burst Angel are simply amazing, and the music Yousei Teikoku made for Ga Re: Zero never fails to hit the right spot in my imagination.

They help me craft my own stories, by sharing theirs. They use instruments, and I use words, inspired by those instruments. In turn, I hope, one day, someone is inspired by what I do. More than fame or money, that’s what I want. For someone to feel something. To be moved. To be inspired, the way music has inspired me.

That feels fitting, somehow. Like how it should be.

Music matters because more than anything we can read, or see, it touches us somewhere deep and personal. Music can, with but a few notes, bring tears to your eyes as you remember where you heard it. It can make you laugh at a memory. It can stop you, and hold you in awe.

Music is powerful. It matters because it touches our heart. Our very soul.

So, as I keep talking about music, I hope you’ll really start listening to the soundtracks to the shows you watch. That you’ll let yourself feel them, fully, they way they are meant to be. Anime is far richer when you really let every aspect of it hit you.

Then again, everything in life is. It’s all music, moving us, and we simply dance along with it, knowing or not. Every moment, every breath, is part of a great symphony called life.

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