Currently viewing the tag: "music"

The Plastic People of the Universe (PPU), started with no political agenda but is widely regarded as having spurred a revolution in Czechoslovakia. The band started in 1968, the same year that Prague was invaded by Soviet tanks to shut down the liberalization known as the Prague spring. The new communist government suppressed free speech, imprisoning many musicians,. The PPU were forbidden by the government on several occasions to play, not because of any inflammatory lyric content, but because of their long hair and emulation of capitalist bands like the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa. (The band took their name from a Zappa song.) In 1970, the government revoked PPU’s musician licenses, which made it impossible for them to get equipment or gigs; they had to play underground concerts to avoid government detection and arrest. –The World in Six Songs by Daniel J. Levitin

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which music creates change.

Journaling Prompt: What song made you think about the world in a different way? Write about what you learned from the song.

Art Prompt: Protest Music

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of protest music in your country.

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

Photo Credit: F3Tour Wroclaw on Wikimedia

The band at the far end of the hall, amplified to the din of an elephant charge, smashed and hewed at the tune as though in a holy war against silence. –Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

Fiction Writing Prompt:  Write a story that occurs completely in this setting.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a function where the band was annoying and how you handled it.

Art Prompt: The Band

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous story about a bad band.

Photo Credit: Gavin Tapp on Flickr

thurs street singer

One of us sings in the street, and we listen to him;
The words ring over us like vague bells of sorrow.
He sings of a house he lived in long ago.
It is strange; this house of dust was the house I lived in;
The house you lived in, the house that all of us know.
The House of Dust by Conrad Aiken

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a scene about a street singer and his audience.

Journaling Prompt: When you see a street singer, do you stop to listen? What do you hear?

Art Prompt: Street singer

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Introduce your audience to a song whose lyrics remind you of home. 

Photo Credit: Syuqor Aizzat on Flickr

choir boys

Private patrons, church fathers, or singing companies would either approach or be approached by the parents of a boy who stood out as the most talented singer in his church choir. This could happen anytime before the main effects of puberty, but most boys were “recruited” at age twelve or younger. It wasn’t a coincidence that the practice of castration flourished in the poorest areas and among the poorest families. Many families were facing starvation, and the opportunities for castrati were staggering. By 1589, castrati were singing for the Pope in the Sistine Chapel.

According to The Castrato, a book by Martha Feldman on the castrati singers, there were quite a few different outcomes. She writes, “There were high-sopranos, mezzos, and altos, strident voices and sweet ones, loud and mellow voices, more and less flexible throats, very tall men and very short, well and ill-proportioned castrati.” Different singers had different lots in life. Some sang in church, some in courts, some in traveling companies, and some retired to teach and compose. Some were low-rent singers who spent their time doing small gigs in small towns, and others spun their singing careers into positions as ministers at royal courts. Whatever their later experience, it started, generally, with one operation. –Esther Inglis-Arkell

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a boy who becomes a castrati.

Journaling Prompt: To what lengths will you go to protect your child? Or to promote your child?

Art Prompt: Castrati

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of the castrati.

Photo Credit: Chris Beckett on Flickr

The Smokers

Friendship songs like “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and “Tobacco Road” legitimized and banded together tens of thousands of high school (or even junior high school) students who were otherwise marginalized at the fringes of their school, engagin in an illegal bu oh-it-seems-so-cool activity. School songs and national anthems are an extension of this banding together song on increasingly larger scale, the ultimate perhaps being songs uniting the entire world, such as the Michael Jackson/Lionel Richie composition “We Are the World.” This sort of group formation and reinforcement finds its expressions in songs of friendship, and there is evidence that this kind of song served a very important purpose in function throughout human history. –The World in Six Songs by Daniel J. Levitin

Fiction Writing Prompt: What song is your protagonist’s anthem?

Journaling Prompt: What was your anthem when you were a teenager? What is it today?

Art Prompt: Anthem

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how people unite through music and give them examples of the songs you feel are today’s anthems.

Photo Credit: F. // Chicca // K. Silva on Flickr

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Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

Photo Credit: Archivo Historico Sinaloa on Flickr

parking lot

The mediocre sound of the live band tumbled through the open door way and spilled into the parking lot as he exited the bar. –Forgiveness Is A Luxury by Robert May

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of what happens next.

Journaling Prompt: Write about an experience you had at a bar and what you learned from it.

Art Prompt: Live music at the bar

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous or dramatic story about an experience you had at a bar.

Photo Credit: Charles Henry on Flickr

Music Headphones Beats

Americans spend more money on music than they do on prescription drugs or sex, and the average American hears more than five hours of music per day –The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature by Daniel J. Levitin

Fiction Writing Prompt: Include music in your story or scene and show how it influences your protagonist.

Journaling Prompt: How much music do you listen to every day? How does music affect your mood?

Art Prompt: Music

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience a humorous or touching story a song and how it influenced your life.

Photo Credit: Louish Pixel on Flickr

Try-stick

A very long time ago, in the time before time, an old woman left her village and went out into the fields. Why she left, no one knows. She took nothing with her but a knife and a song. –Child of Earth by David Gerrold

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the first line of the week as the starting point or inspiration for a scene, story, poem, or haiku.

Journaling Prompt: What 2 things would you take with you if you had to leave suddenly?

Art Prompt: A knife and a song

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a story about choices and resilience.

Photo Credit: dog.breath on Flickr