Writing About Music – The Blue Notes Series

A few days ago, I was over at the incomparable J.P. Barnaby’s blog, babbling about my three favorite subjects:  gay romance, music, and love (okay, sex too)!  I thought I’d share that post with you here, because it’s so important to my classical music themed Blue Notes Series of gay romances.  For those of you who have read the newest book in the series, Prelude, you may have noticed that it, more than any of the other books, centers around the music itself.   Which led me to thinking about writing music and how that works.  How do you put into words something you hear?

So of course I have giveaway contests when I’ve got a new book releasing, right?  Everyone likes free stuff.  T-shirts, books, you name it.  Leave a comment, enter to win.  A few weeks ago, I got a very interesting comment from one reader on my website about the second book in the series:  “Just finished The Melody Thief, and I loved it! Even though I have no musical background, this story brought it all alive for me.”  Of course, I’m thrilled when I hear directly from a reader that they enjoyed it.  Even more that they have no music background and loved the book. 

Which got me thinking (dangerous thing!)…  What is it about music that connects with people?  What is it in my books they can connect with?  I think Prelude answers both questions.  I hadn’t thought about it really, not at that level, when I was writing the book.  Let me explain.

I’m a former professional musician (violinist and opera singer).  Music is in my blood, in my bones, and my gut.  I hear music and I get an ear worm.  You know, like when you hear “It’s a Small World” at Disney and the stupid (yes stupid!) song repeats over and over ad infinitum in your mind?  Yep.  That’s me.  The protagonist in Prelude is me times a thousand.  David Somers, the fictional conductor of the Chicago Symphony, hears music in every person he meets and in every deep emotional reaction he has.  And that’s the key.  Music=emotion.

That’s what makes you get excited when your favorite song plays on the radio.  It’s what gives you goose bumps when you sing in a choir, perform in an orchestra, or just crank the volume up on your stereo and listen to the latest release from your favorite indie band.  It’s what chokes you up when you hear the national anthem played.  Emotion.  And that’s the connection I’m trying to share in the Blue Notes books. 

You may not be able to read a note of music.  You may be tone deaf (my dad is tone deaf, but he still loves to listen to music).  You may love rock, classical, hip-hop, or rap.  Doesn’t matter.  The way humans connect to music is through their hearts and souls.  That’s what Prelude is all about.  David looks at Alex Bishop for the first time and sees only his tats and his rough exterior.  But when Alex plays his violin, David hears the music of Alex’s soul, and it forges a connection between them that’s strong enough to give David the courage to take a chance on getting hurt again.

The Blue Notes books aren’t just about music.  Not really.  They’re about human emotion and the connections humans form.  Music as sex (yes, explicit sex, by the way).  Music as pain.  Music as joy.  Music as promise.  Music, as the bridge between human beings.

Want to read an excerpt from the first time David sees Alex? Click on this link (my website) and scroll down to the excerpt tab.-Shira

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Summary:  World-renowned conductor David Somers never wanted the investment firm he inherited from his domineering grandfather. He only wanted to be a composer. But no matter how he struggles, David can’t translate the music in his head into notes on paper.

When a guest violinist at the Chicago Symphony falls ill, David meets Alex Bishop, a last-minute substitute. Alex’s fame and outrageous tattoos fail to move David. Then Alex puts bow to string, and David hears the brilliance of Alex’s soul.

David has sworn off relationships, believing he will eventually drive away those he loves, or that he’ll lose them as he lost his wife and parents. But Alex is outgoing, relaxed, and congenial—everything David is not—and soon makes dents in the armor around David’s heart. David begins to dream of Alex, wonderful dreams full of music. Becoming a composer suddenly feels attainable.

David’s fragile ego, worn away by years of his grandfather’s disdain, makes losing control difficult. When David’s structured world comes crashing down, his fledgling relationship with Alex is the first casualty. Still, David hears Alex’s music, haunting and beautiful. David wants to love Alex, but first he must find the strength to acknowledge himself.

NOTE: Each Blue Notes novel is a standalone story and books in the series can be read in any order.

Want to buy the Blue Notes Series books? You can find them all here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=54_673  

6 comments

  1. Christopher Hammel - Reply

    I like the way you put it. As a former actor in musicals & as a former member of several choirs, I agree with this. Maybe that’s why i am so moved by your books. I relate and understand the concept of “music = emotion”. A beautiful & rational way to explain it,

    • Shira - Reply

      Thanks, Christopher! It’s funny that when I was writing, I wasn’t really thinking about the emotional connection. But maybe that’s because it’s such a natural one to make for a musician. I find I learn the most about myself and my writing by looking back afterward. I’m so glad the connection was there for you too! -Shira

  2. Lena Grey - Reply

    Music is emotion,; it also resonates with our souls like nothing else can do. It literally ‘moves’ us.

  3. Juliana - Reply

    I think music resonates so much because it transcends language. Classical music especially doesn’t need words to convey emotion.

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