Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Music Saves My Soul

There have been a curious set of developments in the last couple of days which are leading to something of a revamp of Sufficiently Cyberpunk. I say revamp. More...mild stylistic changes. We’re not talking News Night 2.0 from The Newsroom, though that analogy has crossed my mind. In a sense, this is Sufficiently Cyberpunk 2.0, but not to the same extent as News Night 2.0.

For some time-honoured context, the shift to SC 2.0 was triggered by a recent meeting in Bristol. I have mentioned once or twice that I work for Boston Tea Party. Currently, my illustrious employers have in the works a company blog. Being a writer and given that I have been banging my head against a wall for the last two or three years telling my bosses, “Hey, I’m a writer, I can write stuff for you. Please. Let me write stuff,” it is finally coming to a satisfying conclusion.

So last Thursday I was at our head office in Park Street, where along with some of the big-wigs (our heads of Food, Drinks, Marketing and People – the preferred term to Human Resources – to name a few) we sat down and talked about how to write an effect blog, true to Boston’s client base. I will admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this but it was a very productive and informative session. As a result, I am going to try and apply the things discussed there to this blog. One of them being post length. As much as I am liable to still ramble, my rambles will hopefully became less essay-like. More...concise, of a sort. No more than fifteen hundred words. At least that’s the aim.

Secondly, the titles. Away with the random quotations. A shame, I admit, but I most also confess that finding quotes for the last couple of posts has been tricky. They’ve been tacked on the end, instead of forming part of the conception of the post. Thus, away with quotation titles. Mostly. I might sneak the odd one in, when appropriate. I also won’t discount the idea of sneaking quotations into the posts themselves.

Speaking of titles, I should probably elaborate upon precisely why this first post of SC 2.0 has the title “Music Saves My Soul” and how it relates to the Boston blog. Simple. The freelance writer leading the session talked about a Channel 4 documentary called Don’t Stop the Music, which deals with the importance of music education and the related campaign by pianist James Rhodes.

First off, I am not a musician. I lack all musical talent. Any latent abilities in my family went to my sisters, as did a flair for artistic expression. I got the words, the knack for bending them to my will and using or misusing them according to whim. But nonetheless, music is something that I would regard as incredibly important to me. I cannot work without it. A soundtrack to a movie or TV show can tug at those heartstrings...well placed music, throughout life, can be a well of emotions, the source from which the stream of inspiration flows.

Back in 2009, there was a girl I had a major crush on. My friends conspired to help me do something about this – they arranged for an evening of television viewing where it would be them, me and this girl. The idea being I could finally make my move. I was nervous. Bordering on terrified. I was approaching a moment, a fork in the road where my actions could radically alter the dynamic this girl and I shared. Before going over to my friend’s house, I had to calm myself down. I listened to “Aqueous Transmission” by Incubus, to this day one of the most Zen and chilled songs I have ever encountered. One that never fails to calm me down. Lying on my floor for seven minutes and forty-six seconds gave me sufficient resolve to make a move (of sorts). While this girl and I never went being good friends, we are to this day still friends.

I also talk a lot about Battlestar Galactica being my favourite TV show. It’s got spaceships, explosions, head-frakkin’ storylines and complex characters. But it also has the absolute genius of Bear McCreary’s score. It really shines through in the second season, when McCreary steps out from the shadow of Richard Gibbs, composer for the mini-series who helped McCreary with the season one score. The music is just perfect, gorgeous instrumentals that are a feast for the ears. “Something Dark is Coming” from the episode “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part One” is a masterpiece. In the third season, a particularly delightful treat is “Battlestar Sonatica”.

When it comes to evoking emotions, there’s one track in particular I will cite. Fair warning, my explanation is likely to contain spoilers, so look away now if you want to avoid them.

“Resurrection Hub”. From the season four episode “The Hub”. In the episode, Colonial Fleet pilots, in conjunction with rebel Cylons, attack the Resurrection Hub, the central nexus for the Cylon ability to download their consciousness into new bodies – essentially cheating death. At the climax of the battle, the track strikes up as the Colonial pilots in their Vipers inflict massive damage on the Resurrection Hub, before firing salvos of nuclear missiles into it. As the music plays, as the nukes fly and strike, something...haunting hits you. Whenever I remember the song, as much as I love it, as much as it is a beautiful piece, there is something so poignant and funereal about it. Even though these are the Cylons, the bad guys, McCreary’s music makes me mourn the destruction of the Resurrection Hub.

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve wanted to wax lyrical about the genius of Bear McCreary’s compositions and it was discovering the Don’t Stop the Music campaign, hearing someone else talk about the importance of music to them, that I realised how to say it. Because it’s not just about Bear McCreary being a genius. It’s not just about the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy being a masterpiece of 70s and 80s popular music. It’s the impact music has on us, the emotions it evokes from us, the joy we derive in listening, composing, playing. So, in addition to waving a flag of geeky appreciation for Bear McCreary, here’s a flag for the importance of music. Learning to play it and just listen and appreciate it. Don’t Stop the Music. It’s easy to support. If you have any musical instruments looking like Halloween decorations from all the cobwebs and dust gathering upon them, take them along to a local Oxfam and donate it. To find out how to do more, visit

I can’t play an instrument, but when I’m writing, music saves my soul.

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