Writers Journey: You Need Philosophy...

When I started the Writers Journey series of articles, I made mention that a writer must have something to say. Further to that is: a writer needs to tap into some universal truths about the human psyche or condition. Even during periods of popular writing styles which went against such sentiments, such as the trenche-de-vie (slice-of-life) style, the most enduring of those works ended up touching upon core truths by way of subtext or analogy even when their writers were attempting not to do that. In fact I would argue that part of writing is drilling down into a thought so far that you end up striking literary oil whether you wanted to or not. Most writers will eagerly tell you about their defining moments, moments when they really got into a piece of work. It’s the point where they can feel the whole of the work coalescing together like water slipping rapidly down the vacuum of a drain. But how does a writer hone this skill for finding the core truths of life? There is the ultimate draft upon draft way until you blindly hit upon something. There are also other ways. One way of writing with something to say is to study philosophy. Here, you probably are wrinkling up your nose. And I did. When I started getting serious about writing in my early twenties I could not be bothered with such challenges. But there comes a point where life itself may toss a writer upon the rocks and leave them bereft of every floating surface that ever buoyed their perception of reality. Most people call this a mid-life crisis and when it comes it usually shakes up life and forces someone to find a new point of view. The mid-lifer reassesses life. Some people...

The Official Musebreak Over-Simplified Guide to Western Music, part one Aug18

The Official Musebreak Over-Simplified Guide to Western Music, part one...

So, are you one of those people who think that the music of J. S. Bach is Classical? Do you think that a Mozart aria is Romantic? Well, here’s your Official Musebreak Over-Simplified Guide to Western Music (or “Why not all classical music is Classical”). Now take it from a guy who spent a lot of time catching up on his sleep during Music History lectures, this is an extremely watered-down version. Also, we’ll only be looking at the major divisions. There have been some minor divisions as well that were sub-movements in the larger divisions, and some that represent transitional periods overlapping the major ones. Impressionist is an example of the former; Rococo is one of the latter. When musicologists talk of Western music, they don’t mean Roy Rogers or Merle Haggard. They’re talking about the music traditions that covered the area from mostly Europe and later North America. Areas like the Orient and the aboriginal areas of Africa and Australia (and Native America, or course) had their own traditions, frequently following a completely different form of music theory than what we’re used to. The foundations of Western music began in ancient Greece, but we’re going to skip ahead a few centuries to get to the periods where music started becoming more formalized. The first period was the Medieval period (500-1400). It is generally thought to start about the time of the fall of the Roman empire, and as you can see it covers a period of nearly a millennium. This period brought us the Gregorian chants, and madrigals and motets. Although most of the period was monophonic (one melody, unaccompanied) the later part of the period introduced polyphony, the use of more than one line of music at a time. Basic harmonies...