The Power of Music


How songs can help set your scenes

I have read a couple of novels recently that heavily feature music. One is ‘The Songs of Us’ by Emma Cooper, about a woman who launches into song whenever she feels stressed, inevitably involving a lot of song lyrics, and the other is Patrick Gale’s ‘Take Nothing with you’ about a cello player, featuring quite a bit of technical detail. For someone who can’t sing a note, I found myself completely caught up in the musical references, and both were beautiful books, enhanced by music. There is something about music, that, when combined with powerful writing, can transport you somewhere sublime.

I was compiling a list of song references in my debut novel (did I mention it comes out on Thursday??) ‘The Oceans Between Us,’ for the playlist at my launch, and was surprised to discover I had alluded to thirty songs. Not bad for a non musician! My novel spans two decades – in musical terms from Glenn Miller to the Beatles, and the song references, along with clothes and food, really help to ground each scene in a specific time period. They also tap in to our sense of sound, as well as the visual senses we appeal to through our descriptions, thus deepening the appeal to the reader.

So next time you are searching for a device to transport your reader to a time and place, why not google the songs that were popular at the time? And you’ll have lots of music available for your launch!