I’ve been reading a lot of books lately on writing music, and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a very odd duck indeed.
Apparently, all these composers hear music. Apparently, it’s the accepted method to hear the music first, and then struggle with wielding words to fit.
Somehow, I’m backwards. (Yet again marching to my very own drum, I see…) I hear words, and the cadences and sounds of them as they roll around in my mouth and in my head create their own melody. Today, for example: I strolled back to work from a quick afternoon break and, mid-stride, I had words for a chorus — fully formed — in my head. And as I let them ping and zing around my brain, they came up with their own song.
The thing is, (and I’m just going to say it at the risk of sounding naive) I’m not sure it really matters all that much if you write the music or the words first. Either way, they have to fit together. The more I write, the more I find myself tweaking words to fit the notes or vice versa. It’s just like writing a short story.You trim and pare and adjust and settle and shift and move things about until the whole thing shines, regardless of whether you wrote the last scene first or not.
I do, however, find it interesting that I seem to do everything — from writing short stories instead of novels, to playing the ukulele in Celtic music — differently than anybody else…!