Today I have two awesome guest bloggers talking about the importance of music in fiction. Welcome Kathleen L. Maher and Carrie Fancett Pagels. Thanks for guest blogging today.
Writing and Music – the Inspiration Connection
by Kathleen L. Maher and Carrie Fancett Pagels
Kathleen L. Maher: While writing my novella recently, I wanted to immerse myself in the flavor of the time period. What better way than the universal language of music? The American Civil War certainly offered a wealth of different styles of music, particularly in a bustling port town like Manhattan where the ethnicity ranged from one block to the next. My hero in the story, William Lee, is based on my great, great grandfather who was a violin instructor. He taught children of Irish and German families, and scraped together a meager living for his wife and family with his music. In the novella I feature a concert hall owner whom William pursues for gigs. His music hall plays everything from Irish dancing music to black traditional “ham bone,” also called pattin’ de juba.
Fiddles enjoyed wild popularity at this time, as did the banjo, coronet, fife and drum. Camp music in the North ranged from patriotic airs like “Yankee Doodle,” “The Battle Cry of Freedom” and “While We Were Marching Through Georgia”, to more religious songs such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Slaves used music to communicate directions to Canada in lyrics such as “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, another name for the Big Dipper constellation which includes the North Star.
Spirituals would have been a common sound in the South as the words of hope and endurance rose from the slave quarters. Elegant soirees in the plantation house might have been graced with piano, cello, even harp music. Minstrels and shows on both sides whistled Dixie on penny tin flutes or sang romantic Stephen Foster songs. Southern patriotic songs included “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and more humorous tunes like “J’ine the Cavalry”. Homefront sentiment ran high with songs like “When the Battle’s Over, Mother”, and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”.
My personal favorite Civil War song is the southern ballad “Lorena”. Its haunting words come alive in its slow and mournful melody. But the one that sets the tone for my Irish folk best would have to be The Irish Brigade. Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0Yr3BsEw6A
Carrie Fancett Pagels: As I write this post, I am listening to “I Will Wait For You” by Mumford and Sons. Yes, I realize it is secular music. I wouldn’t even have known about it (probably) had I not watched part of the Grammys with my husband and they played and that song was so incredible and it resonated with me for my heroine and my hero, and also my writing journey at the time. You see I heard about the Cry of Freedom series by Murray Pura less than six weeks before my novella released! If you are familiar with the song, you know that it has a high energy frenetic beat but with old timey folk music feel which corresponded to my heart rate working on this and my schedule plus being back in 1862-1863. But back to my heroine, Angelina, 1/8 African-American, born in Charleston into slavery the result of several generations of Caucasian men, including Master Rose, having “relations” with the house slaves that Angelina descended from. The abolitionist movement used this multi-generational sexual exploitation with resulting “white slaves” to stir sympathy in the North.
My hero, Matthew’s, mother is an Abolitionist daughter of a Copperhead banker from New York and she’s married to a Copperhead senator from Ohio. So many characters in my story are “waiting for” someone. Now a free woman, Angelina was offered a position as a seamstress in Ohio with Matthew Scott’s theatrical company. But waiting for her to arrive was fruitless—she was in Virginia, obeying God’s direction that she wait and free her niece and nephew from slavery at Shirley Plantation. Her sister died, leaving the children behind. Angelina can’t leave Julian and Charity—she will wait for them. And there is another person on the plantation waiting—Granny Scott, an elderly slave from the Scott plantation. God has promised her she’d see slaves freed before she dies. And God promised her something else. She’s literally alive waiting for God to fulfill what He’s promised her—and of course, He delivers! Then we have Matthew Scott, abducted by the Confederate army to serve, the kidnapping overlooked by the Union army because Matthew’s father is a Copperhead politician. After injured in battle at Malvern Hill, Matthew ends up at Shirley Plantation. Matthew is waiting for Angelina despite her being what he believes is a Southern belle of whom his mother would certainly disapprove. And he’s come to love Julian and Charity, too.
Listening to the music every day when I sat down to write put me instantly in the time and place and emotions where my characters were.
Here is a YouTube link for my inspirational song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NPNcRuaGQI
Question: Do you write to music? Share!
Giveaway: Answer the question in Comments and enter a chance to win a new CD of Mumford and Son’s who are secular artists (it doesn’t contain at least one song with strong profanity—substitution available if preferred by winner.)
Bachelor Buttons: Courted by two men—a young doctor who promises material security, and a poor violin instructor who has captured her heart—Rose Meehan must choose between a life of advantage-grabbing or a life of faith while Manhattan explodes in mob rule following Lincoln’s unpopular draft.
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D. (www.carriefancettpagels.com) is the author of “Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance.” She contributed to “God’s Provision in Tough Times” Lighthouse of the Carolinas (July, 2013). Carrie’s short story “Snowed In” will be published in Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer in October, 2013.
Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance. Abducted against his will, Matthew Scott is conscripted into the Confederate army because of his Copperhead father’s political leanings. Injured at Malvern Hill, Matthew is taken by the Union army to Shirley Plantation in Virginia where he is tended by seamstress Angelina Rose, a freed slave. Given an opportunity to leave the South and start a new life for herself, Angelina remained for the sake of her sister’s orphaned twins who are still enslaved.