Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Power of Music

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

In The Silmarillion, Iluvatar sang the world into being.  In The Odyssey, the siren’s song beguiled sailors to their deaths.  In the original Welsh versions of the Arthurian tales, Merlin is a bard as well as a wizard, and throughout Celtic traditions, bards are attributed with magical powers.  The titular character of R. A. MacAvoy’s Damiano is a lutist, and musicians of all stripes populate Charles de Lint’s work.
What is this fascination with music?

That question has no easy answers, exactly because music speaks to us in ways that words cannot (and I say this as a huge fan of the written word.)  There have been studies on the effects of music on human brain wave patterns, but I’ll leave that to the scientists.  From my own experience, I can tell you that singing will calm an anxious horse.  Whether the root cause is the song itself, or the way it changes the breathing rate of the rider so that she is not contributing to the horse’s anxiety with her own nerves, I can’t say.

On several occasions, I have found my writing mind unstuck after a session of Irish dance.  Since many of my friends are musicians, I often take my laptop out and write at Irish music night at pubs and Irish trad sessions at a friend’s home.  Does it affect the writing?  Well, since I started the practice, one of the most frequent comments I get on my writing is ‘lyrical prose.’

Music influenced my writing quite directly in the trio of ‘flash’ (short-short) stories that I titled The Three Tunes after an Irish social dance done to a medley of, you guess it, three traditional tunes.  I find music creeping in to fiction that isn’t directly about the music at all.  What started out as a throwaway line in Ravensblood (This was too close to her long-forgotten dreams of reconciliation to be real. He knew her too well, was all. He knew how to play her like he knew how to play the baby grand that stood in the sitting room of his manor.) became a way to have a very closed-off character express emotion, and eventually a way for him to connect with individuals outside his immediate circle.

In my new novel, Where LightMeets Shadow, I give full rein to my love for music and my belief in its power to transform, and I do my very best to express the inexpressible:
He passed from playing the harp to being played by it.

Kieran’s heart swelled to bursting.  He could scarcely feel his own fingers on the strings, and yet the music they pulled from his heart and his harp was everywhere, everything, permeating even the air in his lungs until he thought he would die of it. Yet he felt no fear, only awe.  His life would be perfect if he could die so, if he could never come back from this music into the tawdry world.  The universe was his at that moment. He felt no common drive to control, only to bask, to join, and most of all to play, to keep playing.

What about you?  What impact does music have on your life?

About Where Light Meets Shadow (official release 8/8):

 The Scathlan elf Kieran journeys through mortal lands in search of new songs and tales to renew his people’s dying culture. His most cherished, most impossible hope is to rediscover the powers of bards from legend in order to wake the queen, in a stupor since the end of the war between his own people and the Leas elves. 

Kieran accidentally wanders into Leas lands, and a fall from his horse leaves him injured and at the mercy of his enemies. 

He discovers that the Leas are not entirely as he believed them to be. He develops a friendship with the Leas healer-prince, and the two work together to recreate an ancient technique for melding bardic and healing magic, a technique he secretly hopes will wake his queen. 

As friendship deepens into love, will they find a way to heal the rift between Leas and Scathlan, or will the old enmity destroy them?

The author's debut novel, The Stolen Luck, won a silver medal in the Global Ebook Awards in the category of Other World Fantasy and an Eppie in the category of Fantasy Romance. The first book of her Ravensblood series won a gold medal in the Global Ebook Awards in the category of Contemporary Fantasy.

About the author:

Shawna Reppert is an award-winning author of fantasy and steampunk who keeps her readers up all night and makes them miss work deadlines.  Her fiction asks questions for which there are no easy answers while taking readers on a fine adventure that grips them heart and soul.  You can find her work on Amazon and follow her blog on her website (  You can friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, where she posts an amazing array of geekery.  Shawna can also sometimes be found in medieval garb on a caparisoned horse, throwing javelins into innocent hay bales that never did anything to her.

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