music Archive

A Transformative Act: Words Become Music—An Interview with Composer Eric Moe

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Eric Moe is a pianist with a penchant for eclectic harmonies, provocative rhythms, melody lines that curl and cling to the listener’s ear. He’s also developed, over the course of a rich career, a kind of perfect pitch for incorporating text to music.

Songs that are Perfect Short Stories: Using Repetition

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Some of the most effective short stories are by songwriters. The constraints and conventions of a five-minute pop song can structure a narrative in ways that, even before you get to the music, are incredibly moving.

The Female Gaze and the Same Old Songs

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I recently went with my husband to a concert. The artist we saw writes gut-wrenching songs, and he and his band put on a great show. But I got restless about half way through. “It’s just so masculine,” I said to my husband, and not long after that the

2 Become 1: An Envious Look at Collaboration

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Recently I was looking at some art in a friend’s apartment when she and her husband shared with me their tradition of making a painting each year on their anniversary. One begins on the canvas and the other finishes. Neither of them is a painter by profession—she’s a poet,

Ornette Coleman and the Color of Fort Worth

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One night in the summer before I left for college, some friends and I piled into a car outside a coffee house in Fort Worth’s museum district. I don’t remember how we ended up on the other side of downtown, in an east Fort Worth neighborhood that I had

The Words Beneath the Sound: Music Inspired by Literature

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As Virginia Woolf famously observed, the best writing often begins with a rhythmical “wave in the mind,” an inner tempo around which syntax and diction are arranged, a guiding beat of artistic intuition that, when struck upon, makes it nearly impossible to set down the wrong word. Other writers

Dancing About Architecture

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“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” said Elvis Costello once, probably quoting someone else. And yet, and yet… It is apparently a strong urge to write about (or somehow with) music. The list of creative writing that involves music in some way is long, and grows longer every

STEAL THIS STUFF: What Writers Can Learn from Over the Rhine

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Okay Writers. If you’ve been tucked safely away from Great Music over the last two decades, you may be new to the “aggressively beautiful” music of Over the Rhine. Today, the husband/wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist are invading my column, not just because they’re critically acclaimed songwriters—but because,

Red Moon Rising: Playlist for Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon

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In my last post I talked about my love of zombies—the blank stares, the hyperfast sprinting, and the social allegory of the undead—and my less-than-love for the resurgence of swoony vampires. In light of the revival of such classic horror monsters, I’m left wondering: what about werewolves? (Or for

Writers: Go and Sin Some More.

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By the time you read this, I’ll be in London, having just given a paper on my (very erotic) manipulations of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry. (More on that in a minute.) Meanwhile, in my songwriter life, I’m preparing to record some songs that leap beyond the safe bounds of