The start of a new year can often fuel our motivation to pursue new ventures, improve our skills, and aspire to achieve new personal goals. This year I want to try to encourage you to engage with music in a different way. 2020 has taught me and many musicians to think outside of the box and explore how we can use our skills to communicate with audiences differently. This led me to think of how leading exponents in a variety of fields turned to music for inspiration and stimulus to aid their creative thinking.
I wanted to start with a little food for thought. Research from the Nature Neuroscience Journal published in 2011, nearly ten years ago, reported that the anticipation or experience of Music stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain. Suggesting that listening to music is linked to our deepest reward systems. So, if you are like me and looking for a sustainable way to replace chocolate and crisps, Music may be a way to satisfy your craving and help shed a few seasonal pounds.
One of George’s favourite movies is Pulp Fiction and we often talk about how music influences Tarantino’s films. In the booklet that accompanies The Tarantino Connection, an album of soundtracks from his films, Tarantino describes how music affects his creative process:
“One of the things I do when I am starting a movie, when I’m writing a movie or when I have an idea for a film is, I go through my record collection and just start playing songs, trying to find the personality of the movie, find the spirit of the movie. Then, ‘boom,’ eventually I’ll hit one, two or three songs, or one song in particular, ‘Oh, this will be a great opening credit song’,” – Quentin Tarantino
Rene Redzepi, a danish chef whose restaurant Noma has been ranked among the world’s top eateries, combines his love of music and food by playing Metallica in the kitchen. Redzepi said that he plays it to wake up his 40 chefs at the start of the week. This can be heard on his Desert Island Discs interview: Desert Island Discs – Rene Redzepi – BBC Sounds. You can tell that music is such a strong influence on his cooking, as even the foreword for his book “A Work in Progress: Journal, Recipes And Snapshots”, was written by Lars Ulrich, the drummer from Metallica.
Jane Austen found enjoyment from practising the piano, and within her novels she imbued several of her female characters with a similar skill and passion. Such as Anne Elliot (Persuasion), Marianne Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility) Mary Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, the Bingley sisters and Georgiana Darcy (Pride and Prejudice).
“Jane owned a small piano at various times during her life and, when this was not an option, rented one. She played for her own enjoyment and would rise an hour before the rest of the family in order to get her practicing done.” – Jane Austen’s Piano – JaneAusten.co.uk.
While that sounds very admirable and inspiring, I’m not sure if I have the stamina on a Sunday morning to allow George to follow suit so early.
In Emma (volume Two, Chapter 14), she wrote: “Without music, life would be a blank to me.”
Similarly, the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Without Music, Life would be a mistake” from his book ‘Twilight of the Idols’. Nietzsche is an interesting philosopher as his most famous work ‘Thus spoke Zarathustra’ was the source of inspiration for Strauss’s orchestral masterpiece of the same name. This musical work by Strauss is also the centerpiece for Stanley Kubrick’s iconic movie 2001 Space Odyssey.
The cycle of these events reminds me to look to music for inspiration in all aspects of my life, and it gives me hope that my own creative endeavours may in return spark other people’s creativity.
I hope that this blog post inspires you to think differently about music, whether that is participating in learning a new instrument, listening to different genres of music, or simply sharpening a knife to The Clash.
I would love to get a better understanding of how music has inspired you or those you look up to. Whether it encapsulates a special event in your life or inspired your own “eureka moment”, or that it just brings with it the sheer enjoyment of being alive. Let me know in the comments below.