Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Music of Sultana: Two Sisters

How many authors out there listen to music when you're writing? I can't be the only one. Writing is a preferably solitary activity; seriously, I cannot think of what comes next, much less type one letter on the keyboard if anyone else is in the room. I'm not one of those writers who needs absolute quiet while at my computer; I just need the right kind of music to craft one good scene or several.

It's vital to the process, keeps the sometimes fickle Muse close at hand and ensures I stay focused and energized for long hours of writing and editing. The words, the feelings and thoughts of the characters just flow across the page when I'm inspired by background music. There, now you know my best secret for "getting in the zone" and evoking certain moods in scenes. While working books from the Sultana series, the rich musical traditions inherited from Moorish Andalusia connected me with each story even more. Apologies to the family and the neighbors for playing Juan Martin's Musica Alhambra every morning and the loud flamenco music on Sunday evenings. But how could anyone not be captivated or stirred by the oud or guitar?

With Sultana: Two Sisters, I began an exploration of the role of Jewish people in Moorish society. Naturally, my listening tastes now include music that evokes the Sephardi experience in Spain. One of my favorites is the most haunting song I've ever heard, "Nani Nani" by Hadass Pal-Yarden from the album Yahudice. It's supposed to be a lullaby sung by a betrayed woman for her young son, telling him of the sorrow his father has inflicted. Sets the perfect mood for a certain scene in Two Sisters. There's also Massel Klezmorim's "Sephardic Elegy" from Jewish Travels - A Historical Voyage in Music and Song, which emphasizes the guitar throughout. Most of what I listen to tends to be instrumental, but as with my favorite, "Nani Nani", that's not a rule set in stone. The vocals on that particular track are really stirring. Almost everything in my inspirational collection is available via Spotify and Youtube, both great resources for finding music that fits the mood.             

So what's most often on my playlist while I work on this title? Listen HERE for some of what sustains me.  If you'd like to create your own free playlist, visit PodSnack, which lets you compile collections from Youtube and / or your computer. Happy writing (and listening)!  

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