Prompts, Mood, and Music

Baby, this is Russian roulette
And it ain’t my gun.
Hallelujah, I ain’t dead, yet
And I’m still going strong (oh, oh, oh)
I don’t know about tomorrow
But the battle ain’t done
They say losers are forgotten
And I just might hit the bottom
But we all gotta take the leap, and let it be

                                      – Labrinth

Many authors use mood music as an aid in fashioning their work. Music helps put you in a mood so that you can better express the emotions of a particular scene. However, there is so much music can help you with other than simply as a tool for mood setting.

There are many lyricists who use their music to tell stories, too. A song, by its nature, is a short story – generally. (Yes, I’ve heard of The Iliad and the Odyssey). Ballads, in the classic sense, are usually stories about specific events or tales that people are already familiar with. However, many contemporary songs are full of symbolism and vague references. The audience is left to relate these meta-story to experiences in their own lives or to fill in the specifics with their imagination. Because these songs exist as meta-narratives, a little imagination can produce a great variety of unique stories from a single song.

I chose this particular video because a lot of thought was put into presenting the song as a story with separate scenes or chapters. There are many separately staged ‘scenes’ concentrated in a single large warehouse. This gives the video the appearance of a documentary about the artist’s life or of a behind-the-scenes look at a movie being filmed.

So, here is an exercise you can try with this video: Imagine what each of the scenes in the video is about. Create a story arc that connects them all together. (This isn’t too tough as the artist is in nearly all of them.)

Tip: I think that it would help if you first try to imagine what the exact nature of the “crisis” is in the song. The title suggests that is an incident that the protagonist cannot make right again and so, must “Let it be.” But that is a suggestion. Everyone has their own way of creating a story.

I plan to write more about this subject of creating a story using music in future posts. For now, I hope you like this video. Enjoy!

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