The Inherent Music of Storytelling by Janine Donoho

Dancing with my veil

Dancing with my veil

Our brains on music

Our brains on music

“Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous.” –Yehudi Menuhin

Melodic impulse suffuses our lives. We’re creatures of rhythm, beginning with biological cadence—the rush and wash of our mother’s blood sustains us. Our emotional responses to music go deeper yet.

First as inquisitive child, then dancer and choreographer, and finally as storyteller, aural patterns enrich my existence. When I discovered Bach, especially as interpreted by Yo-Yo Ma, his suites blended with breath and heartbeat, freeing me to move into relaxed openness where creativity thrives. Count this as therapy on many levels.

Different musical patterns stimulate our brain’s emotional, motor, and creative areas. Yet generalizations that the right brain equates with creativity and the left, logic, have proven to be an oversimplification. Better to visualize different parts of our brain lighting up dependent upon pitch, volume, tonality, and rhythm.

Colors of music

Colors of music

Now ponder the secondary effects of music on involuntary responses. Our vision, language, and memory align to tuneful variations. This torrent generates the subjectivity of our song choices. I won’t even get into how our unique chemistry transforms those reactions.

The one hardwired response? Emotion. The basic distinction between overtly sad and happy tunes affects us. As we age, those effects increase.

So while Mary McLaughlin’s “Sealwoman/Yundah” provided a cadence to strive for in Soundings: Water Elemental, the piece may—or may not—elicit the same response in you. How successful my writing proves to be in reaching that pinnacle? I leave that to you, dear readers.

How does music elevate your life? What are your current favorites?

Music and our brains

Music and our brains

Skirt dance.

Skirt dance.

Zils and the dancer.

Zils and the dancer.

Artist, Entrepreneur or Producer? by Janine Donoho

Do not flush...Oh, the rarefied air we artists breathe. Cogs in the greater wheel or isolated hermits toiling in a cave? We’re trying to figure that out even when everyone’s a “creative” and art has transformed once again into a craft populated by artisans.

Soundings Cover Upgraded 1-23-2015With the upcoming launch of my latest novel Soundings, Water Elemental, the necessities of social media have inundated me. I’m ensnared by the current model for artists who’ve morphed into creators whose daily work and lifestyle require processing for consumption. Remember the pink slime of hamburger fame?

C’est moi. Yet since I feel privileged to have such an excellent team at Booktrope, this definitely counts as a whine. Thank goodness for book manager and publicist exemplar Vanya’s practical voice calming my wildly oscillating sine wave before it flips to completely erratic.

After reading a provocative article in The Atlantic, I realize what overwhelms me—and possibly you, dear reader—is the latest obligation to be a creative entrepreneur versus an artiste. And Gladwell’s 10,000 hours toward proficiency? Evidently networking, high concept, and branding trump that in today’s world. Yes, the cult of personality triumphs.

Yet do we allow despair to suck us into its vortex? Absolutely not—resistance may not prove futile. Still the idea that creatives exist solely as corporate brands? That’s cynicism at its dankest depths.

I know a few of the writerly 1% who’ve become brands, whose stories translate into tours of economically challenged towns featured fictitiously in nudge, nudge, wink, wink their “breakout novels.” I salute them and their successes. If one of my stories rescues a town or my preference, an endangered species, I’d go for it.

You see, those 1% writers I unabashedly love did their 10,000 hours,Lapped by clouds absorbed craft, and now? Well, they’re professionals who support families, small towns, and the new corporate paradigm of “producerism.” The destructive force of a fully operational death star—er—marketplace has been brought to bear.

As our culture tracks Jane Austin’s “aha” moments, then equates them to “yo quiero taco bell”, I wonder which of my favorite writers would fail to publish today. Which undiscovered voices will be lost in the rush toward “producerism?”

Now I’m dragging my sorry artist’s butt to the kitchen for breakfast, then out to clean both cat box and pup yard. Today’s odyssey? The cupboard’s bare and I actually do live in a remote, yet plush “cave.” On, on.The view from here

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

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