What music and horoscopes have in common.

I shall immediately start with pointing out that I’m not a believer in horoscopes or star signs, but if you stick with me you’ll see where I’m going. Don’t worry, it’s not a long piece.

In the box set Quadrophenia by The Who (my favourite Who album) there is an essay by Pete Townsend, where he describes how the many facets of the album came about. I won’t go into everything it covers other than to say, the essay is interesting if you like the album, and you like the story, or the details behind albums. There are also good photos, reproductions of notes, and other things in the box set (click the picture above to view it on Amazon). I love the Quadrophenia album so for me, well it’s all good. However as someone getting back the writing bug there was one part of the essay which stood out a bit more in a different way, and this concerns how to write something that makes sense to the audience.

Pete points out that there is a fundamental difference between how someone writes a story, or drama, compared to someone who writes rock music or songs. From Pete’s perspective, the rock composer has to guide the listener in someway but not provide all the details, leaving something left for the listener to fill. I hope he won’t mind if I pinch a quote:

“The listener jumps into the music and it is only then that the real story begins. Too much information, too much detail, too much plot, makes the leap impossible. Rock and Pop fans don’t merely want to identify with the story … They want to be the story”.

To me this is a great point and something I agree with. That is the reason so many people can take a song and have it mean something to them. It may only be a part of a song that clicks with someone, but that part links with your world. If the whole song does that, then you get something you really like. A classic. But it is how you fill that hole that means so many people from different backgrounds can get so much (and often different things), from one song.

Regular readers might have noted that I’ve been attempting some poetry with varying levels of success. Some are more like songs than poems (like this one), but it makes me wonder if I have achieved that hole that a reader can inhabit. Well if I haven’t, it is something to aim for in the future. I kind of figure poetry in some forms is a fine line of difference between it, and a song, with perhaps some obvious verse, chorus, structure differences, but often that same rule will apply. Again it is why different people can find themselves in different ways within a poem.

So how does this relate to Star signs? Well I could go on a big rant about what nonsense they are, but I suppose this sentence will do that job. If there are any readers who have read a few star signs in their time, they might have noticed that some astrologists, or as I call them “writers”, seem to be better at it, or more related to your life than others. That I believe is a simple point. Horoscopes also work with the same “hole”, that the reader needs to inhabit. If they are too direct and have too much detail, then it won’t fit most readers. Readers of horoscopes are not after a story, they are after something that relates to them. Like any area of writing, some writers are simply better than others. Those <ahem> “good” ones are just better at creating the hole.

So that is what music and horoscopes have in common. Agree or disagree? Or do you even agree with Pete’s point about the hole?

Lexicon word of the day: Indubitable.


6 comments on “What music and horoscopes have in common.

  1. Dan says:

    I find this to be so true. It’s how music works – at least for me. What I really love is hearing people’s stories from their lives with music as the background. I always say that anyone can write a review or give their opinion about a song or album or artist, but what’s REALLY interesting is taking about the music as it relates to their life. The personal angle is always what interests me most.

    • Elliot says:

      I also think it is why writing a good music review or writing about a piece of music is actually difficult to do. Because of that hole and therefore your own connection it is hard to write generally about it without being a bit vague. Well that and it is hard to write about the music part as well because that works best when you hear it. You can only talk in frame of reference – but that’s a separate topic.

  2. crubin says:

    Interesting post. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but you’re right–songs shouldn’t be overly definitive in meaning. That way, we can all see something personal in them. Very clever. And yes, I guess it is like horoscopes, but like you, I never read them. Although once I had no fortune in my fortune cookie. That was a bit disturbing…

    • Elliot says:

      It’s a good point isn’t it? Plus is allowed me to have a go at star signs / horoscopes without it being a rant!

      Hmm no fortune in a fortune cookie? What does it mean?

  3. When I read your title I must admit, I was thinking, ok, where’s he going with this lol….but…..yep, I see what you mean! 🙂

    I’d never really thought about the “hole”

    Thanks hon, very interesting post 🙂


  4. lostupabove says:

    Hello I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I hope you enjoy it. Details can be found here: http://wp.me/p1ZC80-U4
    Love, Steph

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