Thursday, March 3, 2011

There's a Time and a Place for Everything

by Gigi

As the character Chef on South Park used to say, "There's a time and a place for everything: It's called College."

In college, I wore Birkenstocks on a daily basis, attended numerous Indigo Girls concerts, and played acoustic guitar.

For photography class, I took "artistic" photos of my guitar, like the two below. (Those were shot on black and white 35mm film, so I had no idea what the light would turn out like until I developed the film myself in the darkroom.)

A college photo experiment: "guitar as spaceship"

My Birkenstocks now sit next to the back door as my garden shoes, most of my folk music CDs never made it onto my computer, and I don't sit around playing music with people like I used to do in the dorms during college.

Another college photo: "while my guitar gently weeps"
These days, the biggest way music makes its way into my life is as the background music to my art and my writing.

When I work on a design project, I listen to KEXP online. My favorite DJ is John in the Morning, on the air from 6 - 10 am Pacific Time, who never fails to provide an energetic mix that's a great supplement to coffee.

When I write, I listen to something mellow-yet-amazing like Brian Eno -- or sometimes rain sounds (helpful via headphones while working at a cafe when you can't quite concentrate).

When I edit, though, what I discovered is that I find myself thinking again and again of specific songs. While finishing up my first mystery novel, I decided to make a soundtrack. Here are a few of the tracks:

Chaiyya Chaiyya Bollywood Joint by A.R. Rahman -- I admit I stole this one from Spike Lee, who used it for the opening scene of Inside Man. He was so right. It's an awesome theatrical song for a sweeping scene in a book or film.

This Year by the Mountain Goats --  Angsty acoustic guitar rock for when the heroine Jaya is at the end of her rope. "I'm gonna make it through this year if it kills me..."

Catch the Wind by Donovan -- My folk music roots made me think of this song for an introspective scene along the windswept cliffs of the Highlands of Scotland.

Jogi by Punjabi MC -- Because Jaya loves Bhangra music.

Abel by The National --  Another angsty song. Novels are all about conflict, after all. "Everything has gone down wrong..."

And finishing things up: You are My Joy by The Reindeer Section. Yup, in addition to mystery, I've gotta have some romance.

A photo of one of the walls in my office

p.s. For anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area, we'd love you to join us TONIGHT at 7 pm for Rachael Herron's book launch party at BookShop West Portal in San Francisco. There might even be some music!


Sophie Littlefield said...

on the road but just had to peek and see what photos you came up with this week and i wasn't disappointed :) Gigi will you please give everyone, especially rachael, a hug for me tonight and tell them it's from me. Don't let *anyone* escape, not even Martha xoxo

Mysti said...

Arg! Hate to miss Rachael's gig!!!

I love the photos, and the idea that a song can be a drawing of breath before diving back into the conflict :)

L.G.C. Smith said...

It's so interesting how different the writing process is from one to another. I have important songs for each book, but they usually have to do with capturing emotions for particular characters and a tone for the overall book. I can't compose or edit with music, because that takes me away from the sound of words. Many more seem to find music enhances the music of their words. Every writing path is unto itself, as organically different and similar as we are in our brains and bodies.

And, oh, your them!

Lisa Hughey said...

I want a rain soundtrack!!! Love your pics AS ALWAYS and I love that you have specific music for specific scenes.

Wish I could be there tonight!!!! Will be thinking of you all and LONGING to be in West Portal instead of at a meeting. Sigh.