Radio Hed: Writing to Music

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

How many times have you heard a piece of music and been inspired? How many times has music brought tears to your eyes? How many times has music made you chuckle or smile? How many times has music triggered nostalgia?

The power of music lies in its close link to our emotions. One of the reasons we love our favorite movies so much is the music scoring.

Oftentimes a song from our past will bring us back to the moment we first heard it. With this catalytic power, it’s no wonder that more and more writers use music as a tool to help them break writer’s block and improve the emotional depth of their writing. The next time you create a spot, don’t just select music in the production phase to complement the words you’ve already crafted. Let the music help you create the words.

Try this: select several pieces of instrumental music, and with the client information at hand, simply listen to each one and see where it takes you. Begin writing while listening and continue for at least two minutes. Don’t try to make sense out of the story yet. Just write what the music inspires you to write.

You’ll come up with ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions that you wouldn’t ordinarily have thought of without listening to the music. At the end of two minutes you may have a complete commercial, the beginning of a commercial, pages of possible campaigns or useless verbiage. You should at least have the start of a commercial.

The music has allowed you to bypass the thinking process and write from your heart, your gut, your emotional center. This is good, because that’s the level on which listeners will react to a commercial.

If the music you’ve chosen inspires you to write something cogent, continue to refine the commercial. If not, pick another piece and continue the process.

Don’t be afraid to pick music that doesn’t seem to match your advertiser. Sometimes that can be the most inspiring.

At first, that gentle harp piece may not seem to fit with the amusement park you’re writing for, but give it a chance. That military march wouldn’t have been your first choice for the fast food restaurant. That world music piece with the children’s voices may not seem like an natural fit for your car dealer, but listen to it and start writing anyway and see what happens.

Each piece of music will have rhythms, chord changes, melodies, and hooks that will be natural complements for the words you write. After using this technique you may find that the blending of words and music in your commercial seems more natural than if you had just added the music as an afterthought.

I’ve been teaching this technique in seminars for 13 years, but a new generation of writers is discovering its ability to break writers block. Craft your words listening to music and you may find your advertisers singing your praises.

© 2003 Hedquist Productions, Inc.

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