Tag Archives: writing inspiration

Muzak for Storytelling.

By chance I heard this piece of music on a classical radio streaming site, but although I had no idea who composed it or what its title was, somehow I knew every note, and was humming or whistling along throughout. Before the piece ended, I went to the computer that was streaming the music, got the identifying info, and later went looking for recordings online. There are several to be found, including a couple of piano reductions and a recording that purports to be of the composer conducting the piece, but this one (an excerpt from a much longer concert) is my favorite:

I’ve seen other conductors who had active styles, but Sergiu Celibidache (1912-1996) takes the cake. He conducts with every muscle of his body, including his eyebrows, shoulders, torso, elbows, and even his tongue. You can see him whistling along with the wind instruments and the strings, imitating the brass, and can hear him shout directions.

The orchestra puts its heart into accompanying him as he almost dances on the podium. Maybe he got into the piece because he and the composer (George Enescu, 1881-1955) were countrymen (Romanians), but his performance here is pure body-language storytelling; moreover, I’ve never seen another conductor who smiled as much as he did, while leading music.

Incidentally, get a load of the enormous 1970s television camera stationed at upstage right.

(Many thanks to the person who posted this musical excerpt.)



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Mystery Muzak.

Can anyone identify the title and composer of this music?

(The linked recording begins in the last 22 seconds of the piece. To listen to it the way it’s meant to be heard, start the recording at the 24 second mark, play through and immediately repeat.)

This piece is currently used as the “on hold” music for CVS/Pharmacy stores. Nobody seems to know who was the composer: not the fellow who posted the above recording at SoundCloud, and apparently the pharmacy’s corporate people are not sharing that information. The only suggested identification I’ve encountered refers to a brass band march piece, which this romantic piano solo emphatically is not. Rumor has it that the pharmacy company is considering scrapping it for something new.

An admirer of the piece uploaded this image of the basic notation:

Music to write books by.

To me, the romance and drama of the piece put it in the leitmotif category. I blogged about this kind of musical and literary treatment in Do You Write Leitmotifs?

I wrote most of Irish Firebrands while listening to music (sometimes just one piece, all day), and this one may become another of those inspirational pieces while I write The Passions of Patriots.



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Creating Ghost Stories From Vintage Photographs.

In my collection of vintage family photos there is one that is not identified. It’s a turn-of-the-century wedding portrait, and the youthful couple stare at the camera with almost deer-in-the-headlights expressions. I can see no resemblance between any of my great-grandmother’s relatives (identified in other period photos) and either the husband or the wife. Friends of the family? Extended family members? The passage of more than a hundred years has erased the memory of their identity.

Chicago Review of Books

Maria Romasco Moore’s debut book, Ghostographs, is an entirely unique “novella-in-flash,” combining stories and vintage photographs that create an experience that’s both eerie and sublime. It’s a coming-of-age story that takes place in a small town full of secrets and ghosts and unforgettable characters. The book has received high praise from the likes of Carmen Maria Machado, who blurbed: “Each of these stories is its own ghost: startling, uncanny, gone. Each one rattles its chains, smiles its terrible smile, gestures towards the others.”

I was lucky enough to talk with Maria about her writing, the appeal of old photographs, working with a small press, and more.

I wanted to start with the author’s note that comes at the end of Ghostographs, and how you write about this collection of old photographs you slowly built and started from childhood. Can you talk a bit about your fascination with old photographs?…

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