1. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    My Protaganist is a Musician--But I'm Not. I NEED HELP. :(

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by wafflebunny, Aug 13, 2012.

    I am currently working on a novel about a young woman who is a child prodigy and a musical genius; it is in the style of an autobiography, so it is a fake autobiography.;)

    I won't go into too much detail about the plot but the thing is the character is a lot like me. The only difference is our families. The problem is we are both artists but in different fields--I am a visual, performing and fine artist and writer. My protagonist is a songwriter and musical artist. I am doing so much musical research. Sometimes it's fun, sometimes it's discouraging because I do not know how to play an instrument.

    I have a great appreciation for music--mostly classical, jazz and soul. I have read autobiographies of musicians that made music in the same genre as my character which is soul, jazz, and rock. I have interviewed friends that are musicians. I already like going to jazz performances; and I have listened to classical and jazz music paying much attention to tone, color, and studying the music sheets of music. The problem is, I can't play an instrument. :mad: It doesn't matter how much I engage in music, how deep I put myself into a musical mindset (or into the mind of a musician). I feel discouraged when writing the music scenes only because I can't play an instrument.

    Right now, I don't have the time to learn how to play an instrument nor can I afford one. So as for now, I am writing the scenes that don't require much description of the character performing. I am saving those for when I get more research. Right now I am connecting the creativity of my character as a musician with my creativity as an artist. Even though we both use different instruments to express our creativity (me: words, colors; her: instruments, sound), I am such a perfectionist and I really research and like to take on my characters.

    I really need some help and encouragement. Has anyone ever been in a situation like this?
     
  2. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    Oh, by the way, you don't have to be a musician to answer. :)
     
  3. fwc577
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    fwc577 Member

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    Start at your local library. Pick up a few books on the type of music your character prefers as well as the insturment she plays. Make a list of words that are used in her industry, write them in a spreadsheet along with definitions and print them out and tape them to the wall where you write. Make sure to add those terms in to make your writing more believable.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When your character is playing music, what is it that you're trying to convey? It's mostly emotional - so engage the emotions. You don't need to know how to play music to write that. Talk to a musician - not about music per se but how do they feel when they play, what makes it satisfying or what makes them think they've performed well? What do they wanna achieve by playing? Why do they play? None of this requires you to play music yourself - and when writing you're hardly gonna tell us about the musician's technical skill - you will tell us what your character's thinking, feeling and hoping for. So do that.

    Listen to a piece of music that your character would appreciate and figure out what emotions your character might be feeling, or what he/she might be thinking. Then write a response as your character to the piece. Get in tune with just being in the music.
     
  5. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    Music isn't just about having the ability to play a "classical" instrument such as the piano or violin. If the character is a musical genius he probably explores other instruments like pots and pans. Just like an artist might use different mediums, the composition process isn't really about writing music or knowing musical terms, rather its about being able to create an audibly pleasing collection of sounds.

    A musical prodigy would be able to see past all the fancy terms and jargon and be able to "feel" the music. If you've ever heard of "perfect pitch", thats essentially what i'm getting at. Most musical prodigies have this to some extent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_pitch
     
  6. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Be sure to ask the musicians you talk to what are the things they worry about and find most difficult when they play.

    I would hate to be handicapped by too strong a sense of absolute pitch. After all, there is no natural definition of the pitch of a note, and early church organs were built to a wide range of reference pitches.

    It might be nice to tune an instrument without needing a reference. It would be terrible to be bothered by a piano or organ that was slightly off the modern standard pitch, but well in tune with itself. I had an office mate who was so bound to absolute pitch that he could hardly recognize a familiar tune that had been transposed to another key. That's a handicap.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've been a musician all my life and I know a lot of musicians. One thing that nearly all of us have in common is a tendency to sing, publicly or just to ourselves, almost constantly. Music doesn't happen for us only when we're playing an instrument, it happens all the time. It's hard to turn it off (not that we really want to). If we're not singing, often we're whistling or drumming on our car dashboards or something like that.

    One thing to remember about playing an instrument is that (in most cases, anyway) it can be physically taxing. My main instrument is the acoustic twelve-string guitar, and it can be a real workout for my left (fretting) hand to play it for any significant length of time. I have to stay in shape to do it, if you know what I mean. I have a friend who is a trumpet and flugelhorn player, and he has the same issue with his embouchure, keeping his lips in shape to play. Playing an instrument takes daily practice, daily training.
     
  8. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    I'm glad you mentioned this because geniuses are not perfect (when some people think they are).
     
  9. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    I've noticed this with my friends that are musicians as well. And I'm glad you mentioned this.

    I am a perfectionist. I tend to over think my work and all it does is hurl me into a depression. When I feel this way, I just step back and talk to other writers.
     
  10. wafflebunny
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    wafflebunny New Member

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    Thanks to everyone that answered, so far! I appreciate everything you all had to say.
     

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