When Wilfred J. Funk assembled this list, he was paying as much attention to the sound of words as to their meaning, which is something we tend not to do as busy humans, caught up in the use of language as a conveyer of information.
But we’ve all heard that music is the universal language. The reverse is also true: that language itself is, at its core, music. How close can we get to this core? Or, as a beloved writing mentor of mine asks, "How close up to the words can we get?" What he means is, how effectively can we untether ourselves from the bonds of predetermined meaning of words and phrases and old metaphors in order to discover something absolutely new? For most of us, this takes some effort, some openness, and a few surprising tricks--one of which can be music. Music will bring us closer to the purity of language at its source: sound. This is a powerful tool and creative doorway for every writer of every genre.
That's why I'm thrilled to announce that we will have a musician joining us at this June’s Summer Solstice Retreat. Not only will this talented guitarist and song-writer accompany some of our yoga classes and help out with campfire songs and morning harmonies, but she’ll also be working with me on some musical writing prompts, Yes, musical writing prompts! Why, you might ask, will we be marrying some of the writing to music? What benefits will that bring to the essayist or the poet or the fiction writer who never intends to write a song?
As a stimulus to our sense of hearing, music can, and inevitably does, convey information, yet it is information untethered from the meaning that we automatically associate with words. Therefore, the meaning we experience through the notes themselves and their arrangement is more fluid and more free than the meaning we experience through words for which we have already learned what seem to be (but are not) concretized meanings.
What is the nature of the information contained in music? What does it express? How can exploring this connect us more deeply to the liveliness of language itself, the music of language? How can playing with music help us capture the power of a word’s musicality rather than simply its ascribed meaning?
We’ll be immersing ourselves in these waters in June. I have no doubt that the addition of music will lead us even further into unexplored regions of our creative capacities as writers.
I’d love to hear from you if you have comments or questions. Meanwhile, here is more information about the wonderful musician who will help us unlock doorways into imagination this June at Stout’s Island at the Elephant Rock Summer Solstice Retreat.
Cat Terrones is a singer-songwriter, yoga teacher, and musician, performing music drawn from a range of folk traditions. Cat is currently working on her new EP, Soul Set Free. She is the founder of the Celtic/Folk/Americana band Sparrowhawk & The Girl. A certified yoga instructor, teaching since 2006, Cat’s experience in yoga and passion for the healing influence of music and sacred sound guides her in creating live music for yoga classes. Cat received her B.A. in music from California State University, Long Beach. She taught private voice for seven years and has recently shifted her full focus to developing original music projects and expanding her music and yoga business, Chandra’s Yoga Tree.