I first discovered the epic wonder that is War of the Worlds on a road trip. My partner was driving, which I mention because I became so infatuated by this album that I would not have been able to concentrate on less mesmerising things like red lights or stop signs. At first, I was drawn in by the commentary spoken in such a vintage-sounding, easy-to-listen-to voice, and then by the epic music of Jeff Wayne. As it continued, I was amazed by the ability of Wayne to tell a story using music and minimal dialogue. You see, as I was listening I could clearly picture the events in my mind, which is really quite impressive. Sure, I can do this with words – think about the senses to create a feeling of being in the narrators shoes, using similes and metaphors to forge strong imagery… but with music? This helped me rediscover music with a new purpose – a medium of storytelling. Another artist I was recently introduced to that exudes narrative in their music is Overwerk. Specifically their album The Nth Degree, even more specifically the song below: Of course, this is not a new concept. Thinking back to personal favourites like Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (from The Nutcracker musical) we are reminded that before film became such a common and popular form of entertainment, musicians embraced their role as storytellers.
One could argue that popular contemporary music still embraces this role. After all, lyrics often tell a story of love, strength or heartbreak. However, what is remarkable about the works of Jeff Wayne and Overwerk is their ability to tell a story through music, not words (I think Muse might be a contender for this ability, too, especially their older pieces). I mean, if you take out the lyrics from GInny Blackmore’s Bones, for example, and we’d be challenged to build any sense of narrative (side note – I have nothing against Ginny Blackmore, in fact, I really like that song). So this is a post to help you think outside the box, to embrace the different forms of narrative, and begin to see stories where we never believed they existed before. Share the story that is not written in words.