Radiohead & The Difficulty Of Conveying Music In A Novel

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

The reason why Radiohead is so important in my development of this novel is how difficult it is to convey music in a novel. Outside of, say, The Beatles, there really aren’t a lot of pop-rock songs that are so widely known that a lot of readers wouldn’t have to stop and actually listen to the song’s referenced.

This is a problem for me given how at its heart, this novel is about music and its importance in the lives of the characters. I have a workaround of sorts — Radiohead. Radiohead both has the type of songs I need to set mood AND has a discovery that’s wide and deep enough that I have a decent chance of referencing a song that enough people know that they WON’T have to actually listen to it.

But one thing I can’t stress enough is how important music is to this novel’s universe. It’s its soul. Its heart. The thing that binds everything together. That I’ve actually managed to pull this off (at least in my own mind) is quite an accomplishment. Or, put another way — this should be a screenplay. But I like the idea I not only have absolute creative control, but I also can give you insight into a character’s internal thoughts in a way that is difficult to do in cinema.

Another thing I struggle with is setting tone. Radiohead forces me to stay focused. People want a dark, exciting thriller not just a fast-paced version of The World According To Garp. But I simply don’t take myself very seriously and so that’s bound to pop out in the novel every once in a while. I simply don’t have THAT much self-control.

We’ll see, I guess. The last time my entire life was wrapped around something of such significance was ROKon Magazine. But that was a pretty brutal creative experience that destroyed me. Hopefully this particular hat trick won’t be as emotionally painful.

Author: Shelton Bumgarner

I am the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report

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