For many people, one of the most effective ways to jump-start creativity is through music. Although we’ll be exploring many different types of writing prompts and assignments for our Clarion Calls, we’ll come back every so often to the idea of musical meditation. For those new to the concept, here is how a prompt like this works: find a few minutes when it is quiet, use headphones or earbuds if possible, close your eyes, and empty your mind as you do for meditation. Then start the song and let it lead your mind through whatever images, emotions, or scenarios it triggers. Your response may differ from the next person’s, and that’s all right.
Soundtrack music often works best for this, as it lacks lyrics (which can corral imagination) and is deliberately written to provoke strong emotional response. This week, for those of you who have never seen the 21st-century reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, I introduce you to Bear McCreary, the brilliant composer of the show’s soundtrack. BSG fans will need no introduction, as McCreary was as much a character in that drama as any of the ship’s crew. I picked a short sample, since this exercise can make you a bit fidgety at first if you’re used to thinking of music as backdrop.
Without further ado, this Week’s Prompt: “One Year Later,” by Bear McCreary. Listen to it–a few times if needed–and write down whatever comes to mind. It can be a character study, a fragment of dialogue, a static landscape, or whatever else your mind chooses to provide.
There are only two rules for Clarion Calls:
- If you choose to try the assignment, do not read the comments section before you post yours.
- This is a critique-free zone, and that includes critique of your own offering. Save your analytical skills for Mondays with Linda.
With that in mind, I invite all of you to give it a try. At the end of the year, I have a special honor in mind for the person who most often posts an answer to our weekly Call. So have fun, and stay inspired!
12 thoughts on “Clarion Call #2: 1 3/4 Minutes with McCreary”
Only a single line of hoofprints marred the perfect whiteness of the snow-covered plain, and they stretched all the way to the horizon. Cam was stiff and miserable under his fur cloak; half-hypnotized by the rhythmic eruptions of white vapor from his mount’s nostrils. The gelding was stout and wooly, its gait stoic. Cam looked up, squinting through a feeble film of snowflakes, and saw it at last. Tall and gaunt, built of a dusky indigo stone, the tower pierced the silver sky. Cam kept his eyes on the tower as he approached, but when the sun showed its face through a gap in the clouds Cam had to look away as shards of white light dazzled off of the tower’s thousand icicles.
Yes, I too had the image of someone walking across an expansive plain, alone. Like a sole survivor or someone on a mission. But the ending of this song, which kind of meanders, indicated my character got lost 🙂
Alright, to me htis music has three parts: (1) apprehension that something is happening, (2) realization that the something has started, (3) acceptance that the something can’t be fought against.
I peg this to a single plaque on the wall that I recently saw in Rotorua, New Zealand. in 1886 Mount Tarawera erupted, spewing hot, volcanic ash over the surprised people living nearby. One family in particular was caught off guard.
(Music opening) this represents the earthquakes that started shortly after midnight. The adults tried to sooth the children with paino music, but the loud explosions drowned out the tunes.
(Middle) This is when the beams buckled under the weight of the ash and crashed onto the family, instantly killing the father and pinning the mother and her new born baby to their chair.
(End phase) The baby suffocated in the mother’s arms, and one by one the children called out their last words and succumbed to the over bearing heat and heavy air.
OK, morbid, and in real life the mother was the only survivor. If you read this plaque, (which was the mother’s own account), I was struck by the lack of emotion. It was just “he called out ‘Papa,” and was never heard from again.” The only time she wrote any adjectives of feeling was in the beginning when the explosions from the four-peak eruptions shook the dust off the rafters and caused the children to cry out in fear. As with this song, the only time I feel any emotion myself is in the middle phase.
Thank you so much for sharing this! Morbid is perfectly acceptable. 🙂
She lay on her back, adrift with her eyes closed. Her bare flesh felt no air brush past, nor did the fine blonde hairs that covered her arms and legs. There was no air to breathe, but she didn’t need any to inhale. There were no lugs to take in an unavailable breath. No heart thumped in her chest nor any blood coursed through her veins. She needed none of those things. The thoughts that resided within this naked, pristine and perfect shell had no use for such things.
Her body drifted within the utter emptiness of space. If she opened her eyes, she would have seen an innumerable field of stars, galaxies and clusters that both filled the universe and left it empty. She didn’t need to see. She knew they were out there. She knew their number and felt their births and deaths. She gave them all names and knew them all.
Alquira was bright, strong and red. She had given birth to several gaseous planets and one bare stone that sat far, far away from her. Loneliness filled Alquira’s heart. Festio was a powerful, blue star that had an insatiable hunger. Every year he move slightly closer to Alquira knowing only one desire, consumption. Alquira feared for survival and cried out to She-Who-Drifts-Between-The-Stars.
In the time it took a particle of light to travel the shortest fraction, She-Who-Drifts-Between-The-Stars knew all this and Alquira’s fate. It was a universal fate that was at the center of the entire universe, except for She-Who-Drifts-Between-The-Stars and Her Mate. The sadness of both Alquira’s fate and She-Who-Drifts-Between-The-Stars’ unfulfilled desire to find Her Mate last and eternity compared to the speed of the communication.
Though there were no eyes, She-Who-Drifts-Between-The-Stars cried a single tear.
Thank you for joining us!
Wings fluttered against the wind. Snow crystals caked on gauzy membranes. Shinea shivered as she fought to gain altitude. The wind pushed her into crazy dances with the blowing snow. Her thin dress, crafted from summer rose petals, wilted in the frigid air. Her skin faded from creamy pink to pale blue. Her tiny teeth chattered, like an insect’s scratchy call.
One wing shredded under a blast of winter air. She spiraled into a pine, landing on snow covered needles that cut her delicate skin as she clutched to keep from tumbling to the distant ground.
More snowflakes danced across the night wind. They slammed into her face, like blows. Shinea curled into a tight ball, her remaining wing fluttering useless over her back. The petals of her dress blew free into the night, a crumbling remnant of a season long past.
Shinea’s skin blanched white as the cold sucked the life from her. Her hold slipped, ice coated fingers too numb to hold to the pine needles. The wind swept her from her perch. She spun, like a snowflake, through the wintry forest.
And high above, white robes swirling in the winter wind, the Snow Queen laughed.
Thanks. I’m enjoying these exercises.
The trees stood still, sentinels of night. Then there were feet, quietly booted feet picking their way through the woods in the gleam of moonlight, following paths that only they knew. Down the mountains they wended their way, careful and sure and purposeful. One after another they came, large feet and small feet, strong feet and feet that had not walked in a very, very long while. Together they found a common rhythm and went forward in silent community. Footstep, footstep, footstep.
The white city lay below, asleep.
I love seeing how different, yet similar, the images are for different writers. Thank you!
I felt a sense of peace while reading this, it was very nice