Inspiration Through Music: Chopin

Classical music is of the utmost importance to my writing. There are times when contemporary rock and roll, trip hop, and pop just isn’t the right thing for the scene. And rarely is there something as pure and beautiful as one of Frederic Chopin’s compositions. Chopin is one of my cardinal four favorite composers (Debussy, Vivaldi, and Dvorak being the others). It’s Chopin’s skill for understanding how to move us with the trickling keys of a piano that moves me the most about his work. Whether upbeat and quick or calmer and gentle, each of the following songs has a special place in a certain writing project of mine. I’d like to share them with you and discuss what it was about each one that spoke to me.

Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2: This is easily one of Chopin’s more recognizable pieces. This song is pleasant and yet there is a tranquility in it’s melody. Each piano note is clear and rings in the air as if announcing a new beginning. When I hear this song, I think of two people who’ve met for the first time. In each other they recognize a kindred spirit. They can see that the other shares their point of view and sees the world in a similar light. And this fills them with a sense of hope and joy. And of course, I see this with a possibility of romance between these two people. This can be a silent exchange passed through their eyes as they look across the room at one another or in a simple private conversation where only a word is needed to signify their understanding of one another. *This song will have a major part in my upcoming giganto novel, which I’ve deemed the U.P. (until further notice).

Waltz Op. 69 No. 2: A more mysterious piece which can either be shared with two characters or could be the theme for just one. A character appears with no prior warning. They never speak a word but there is something about them that magnetizes others to every movement he/or (preferably) she makes. And just like that, she vanishes. She catches the eye of one particular man at the party, one who thinks he’s heard about her but wants to know more. There’s a tale of woe that accompanies this woman, one that everyone knows was a terrible blow to her but not of the details. Though he does not pursue her, his curiosity gets the better of him. He wishes he knew more. He wishes he knew her. *I listened to this piece when I worked on my first finished novel in high school. The story revolved around a pianist and the two women in his life.

Fantasy Impromptu, Op. 66: This song is quick, the notes fast but moving along with perfect synchronicity. This accompanies the thoughts of someone brilliant in a particular field, whether it is mathematics or police work. It’s the mind of someone who is able to put together each step or clue with a level of understanding unparalleled by any other. There are points where the notes almost trip over one another and you get the sense that there is a touch of madness in this character as well. It’s as though if they think too fast, everything will tumble down. But there’s excitement and enjoyment in this task, despite the threat of a mental collapse. * I immediately think of characters like Sherlock Holmes or even John Nash, the real-life protagonist of ‘A Beautiful Mind’. This is a unique song and it is deserving of just the right character.

Nocturne No.8 Op. 27 No. 2:  I don’t necessarily identify this piece with a character as much as with a certain place. There is an old house that sits among the grassy golden hills far out in the countryside. It’s been long since abandoned but things have been left behind within it. In late afternoon, someone has stumbled upon it. They wander from room to room, picking up old knick-knacks, cleaning the dust from age-old photographs, and peering from the windows out onto the solemn stretch of land. *This is currently the inspiration for a scene being used in the Monstrum Chronicles.

Nocturne No. 20 in C Sharp Minor: This must be one of the most gorgeous songs ever composed for piano. This version is played a tad slower than most and I actually prefer it to the one that I have. It’s more haunting this way. Looking back on events that have occurred within the character’s lifetime, events that happened so long ago, they almost seem nebulous. Deep inside of these is the key to what’s happening in the character’s life now. And yet, when the character tries to focus on them, they just float further out of reach. *This piece was the inspiration for an up-and-coming ghost story that I started a few years ago. I fell in love with this story the moment I dreamed it up and have yet had a good portion of time to sit and knock the rest of it out. I hope I can do it once I’ve finished my travel book.

Revolutionary Etude, Op. 10 No.12: This was the first song by Chopin that I ever heard. As you can imagine, I developed a love for it very quickly. There’s an energy in this song that can’t be found in the others. This definitely makes me think of a chase scene through rainy streets in a city that neither of the characters really know how to navigate. Soon enough, they break away from the city and dive into the woods, a place with far more dangerous twists. It grows darker and soon, they can only find their way by the light of the moon. *This song has inspired many different scenes in many different writing pieces of mine. There hasn’t been one perfect enough yet so that when I close my eyes and listen to this song, I can see that scene in every detail. But that makes it special too: being able to listen this song and see so many different scenarios.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be delving into what I think is an under-appreciated category in music: trailer music. There are several movie trailers that I’ve watched and instantly become entranced by because of the background music. There are loads of talented musicians out there that specialize in this genre: E.S. Posthumus, X-Ray Dog, and Immediate Music to name a few. I’ll be picking some of my all time favorites to share with you and discuss why they make certain trailers pop out over others.

Oh, and if you didn’t see my “Amazing People” post that I put up yesterday, please give it a read and check out those people. You’d be doing me a huge, huge, HUGE favor. Thanks!

~KSilva

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