Inspiration Through Music: George Winston

This Inspiration Through Music is a special one for me. Being a few days late with it, it had better be, right? I have a certain love for instrumental music (music without lyrics). To me, it is so much easier to get lost in the melody of an instrumental song because there aren’t any lyrics to distract you. You can interpret its meaning and the feeling it gives you so much easier without someone else telling their own story on top of it. I have an especially strong attachment to piano compositions. It would happen that one Christmas a few years ago, I was listening to a Pandora station of classical Christmas music. Lo and behold, an incredible version of Carol of the Bells (one of my favorite songs) came on, played by the masterful George Winston. I was so impressed and spellbound by his music that I immediately searched for his other songs. I was pleased to see that he had many, many others. Over the years, I’ve listened to plenty of them and have derived inspiration from them in various works of mine, a few in The Monstrum Chronicles. Because I had such a tough time choosing songs (because I love them all), I chose eight to share with you and the scenes I see when I listen to them. Enjoy!

Carol of the Bells: Evening falls over a small town, the sky turning pale pink as the clouds slowly drift in to deliver another blanket of snow. The air is frigid. The breaths of people exhale like small clouds in the air as they pass by one another. It’s almost a strangely silent evening, one where someone would expect to hear more voices, the sounds of cars passing. Instead, it’s only the wind, the sound of the limbs of evergreens rustling against one another, boots crunching through snow. The way the sun catches the edges of the houses seems to ignite them as it dips below the horizon. The church bells begin to chime as the first flakes of snow flit down. Soon, all of the light in the sky burns off into a deep blue, the shadows slowly slide into to cool where the light struck. The snow becomes heavier.

Longing Love: He watches from the corner of the dance studio as she raises her powerful legs up onto the tips of her toes and leans down. She stands and sweeps herself over the floor, her feet moving so lightly that she hardly makes a noise. She bounds through the air and pirouettes. The sunlight from the window catches on her amber hair and casts her face into shadow. Her strength, her precision… it’s all something he’s never seen or even valued in someone before. This is different. She is different. She carries herself, the weight of her decisions, her burdens, responsibilities, and dreams on those strong graceful legs, and the way she moves shows a fluidity, a practice, and a knowledge of calm. Her movements pick up. She races about, never losing that same flow, always keeping in time with the music. She has energy as well. She knows fury and knows how and when to use it. He can’t help but just stare. Never again would he look at ballet the same, not after he fell in love with a dancer. It was a whole other world.

Cloudburst: The train races through the countryside. He peers out the window, watching the movement of the clouds in comparison. Static, they hang between the earth and the sky, their white cushions blotting out the light. He’s leaving them behind and wondering what it is that makes him need to move so urgently. If only there were a way he could remain in one place like those clouds, moving only when the wind dictated. The idea seemed quixotic and a peacefulness from it settled over his mind. But then came the memories. Then came the awful remembrances of what he was running from, the storm clouds with the lightning they had let loose in his life. All of that anger, all of that disappointment, all of the stress stacking like cement blocks on his shoulders… There was no choice but to run from those. He stares at the clouds again, their color slipping into a strange grey, their tranquility lost on him. Those storm clouds would always be transforming and chasing. Thankfully, this train moved fast.

Woods: The rain had started only a few minutes ago. It wouldn’t start picking up quite yet, she thought as she walked faster along the forest trail. She had only come out for a walk. She hadn’t meant to go so far or for so long. But thoughts had seized her mind. They’d kept her thinking, kept her moving. They’d kept her from returning to the things she was afraid of the most. Every once in a while, she knew she needed that time alone, that time to ensure that she was making the right decisions. He was a great man. But she knew so little about him. And then, there was the life she’d left behind on the west coast, the school she’d nearly graduated from and the friends she’d known so well. It was a shame she’d left it all. She was worried. It rained harder. She cursed as she ran. The raindrops smacked leaves on the trees around her. It wasn’t until she’d cleared the woods that she recognized the warm porch light across the field, the one where she knew her husband to be waited. Even as she started through the grass, she knew that somehow, things would turn out alright… Half way through the field, a noise startled her. She stopped and glanced back over her shoulder toward the woods. She can’t see anything in its shadows. But somehow, she knows that there is something out there… watching. (I honestly tried from steering toward a spooky ending but I just couldn’t do it. This song was the perfect vessel for this idea!)

Japanese Music Box: The old man stepped into his bedroom. The rain outside was nearly deafening. From the living room, he heard the sound of the television, the sounds of his grandchildren and son playing. He maneuvered over to a small bedside cabinet and opened the top drawer in it. From it, he slid a small wooden box. The top was inlaid with pearl in the shape of a lady dancing. He opened it gently. While it no longer played music, he still remembered the melody. He still remembered when he’d composed it for her, when she’d been sick. The piano keys were somehow loud enough to pass over the rain, the television, his family… After a few minutes, he closed the box and put it back in the drawer. Outside, the rain stopped.

Night Part 1 -Snow: She’d seen the house in pictures before; a grandiose building of brick, several stories tall, with beautiful lancet windows. She never dreamed that one day she’d be standing before it, be about ready to buy it. The snow encapsulating the land around it seemed strangely magical. She knew that her memory would forever preserve this moment, this piece in time for it was a perfect moment in those few seconds.

Tamarack Pines: He stared up. The great limbs of the trees split the light that seemed to emanate from above. He had no idea if it was night or day or some strange void in between the two. This place didn’t seem to really exist, a product of his own mind and his imagination running wild. And yet, everything felt so real… He felt as if he’d traveled between these trees for years now. Time was immeasurable. The area up ahead was always vague, blanketed in fog. Everything seemed to have lost its color, dumbed down into black and white shapes, almost having lost their dimension as well. Where was this place? Where was he going? How did he get out? He knew he’d only discover this in time. For now, he would have to keep walking. There must have been an end to these woods somewhere. There was always an edge to the woods. Always. (This is actually a song that inspired parts of the fourth book in The Monstrum Chronicles. Piano music really plays an important role in that book and really brings out my inspiration towards a certain character. It’s much easier to slip into his mind when I hear it.)

Three Pieces from “The Snowman” – Walking In The Air: He walked down the street, kicking snow clumps out of his way. He didn’t like this place. Granted they’d only been there a few weeks and his mom had told him it would grow on him. But so far, it was nothing like home, nothing like the place where he and his friends had hung out. Even the snow wasn’t the same. It wasn’t all light and powdery like he remembered. It was heavy, wet, and sticky and seemed to pile up in mountains everywhere. He kept walking. Why had they moved anyway? What had been the point? He stops. Someone was watching him. He lifts his head to the front yard of a house nearby. A snowman towers there, a blue scarf wrapped around its head. It’s little black eyes seem to stare into him the longer he looks at it. For some reason, who ever had created it had not given it a smile. It’s mouth was straight, almost disturbed. And the longer it looked at him the more he thought about how sad his mom had looked when he’d stormed out of the house earlier. He thought about how hard it must be for her to adjust to this new place, too. He wasn’t alone here. He hopped the fence separating him from the snowman and walked up to it. Plucking out the stones that made up its mouth, he rearranged them into a smile. Satisfied, he turned, vaulted the fence again and started back toward his house. It would take getting used to. But at least he wasn’t alone.

Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be taking a look at some of the fantastic songs by Lou Rawls. Stay tuned!



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