I’ve been out of the loop for awhile. It wasn’t always the case. A decade ago, I was a struggling composer fresh out of a Ph.D program, and I lived and breathed “new music.” Ten years later, I’m a struggling writer—mostly self-taught—living and breathing language and literature.
They were in the midst of counting down their “top 100 pieces of the last 100 years.” It was like reuniting with a group of old friends who I hadn’t heard from in ages. All the memories from countless performances in countless concert halls flooded back.
I was riding the currents of sound and inspiration yet again. The art that is in my now is different from ten years ago. It is the lyricism of words and phrases instead of melodies and sonorities, but it is none the less a song that my soul must sing.
I can’t listen to music while writing music anymore than I can read a book while writing one. But I can listen to music while writing. I can let the sounds coax images from my imagination and let them flow onto the page. My musical past can feed my literary future, nurturing my writing and encouraging it to flourish.