Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Music in or Inspired by Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture By Sylvain Reynard

(By Iris~Elli)
(Originally posted on http://thesubclubbooks.com/?p=451 for SR Day. Play Lists have been updated.)

“I'm also interested in how aesthetic elements such as art, architecture, and music can be used to tell a story or to illuminate the traits of a particular character. In my writing, I combine all of these elements with the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the transformative power of goodness.” ~SR

(Taken from his Bio on his website http://www.sylvainreynard.com/p/about-sylvain-reynard_21.html )

One of my favorite aspects of Sylvain Reynard’s writing is how he does just this. He transforms me with his words and inspiration, music being the art that stands out the most for me, as it is the most important in my own life. This is why I created a Youtube Loving Julia Playlist so that fellow readers could have a playlist to listen to or refer to while they read Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture.

Music speaks for the characters in the story on many occasions. Gabriel always knows the perfect song and playlist to try and express his love for Julia. Loving Julia. One favorite correlations is found in Gabriel’s Rapture,

“He found a Swiss army knife in the kitchenette, made an adjustment to the music, and brought a mango with him to bed. “I needed to match the song to the fruit,” he said, his blue eyes sparkling.” (P 158, Gabriel’s Rapture)

And then Bruce Cockburn Sings out Mango in the Garden (#99 on the playlist) as they feast on their mango in bed. Mmmmmm the professor and his feeding fetish. ;-)
We often focus on scenes between The Professor and Julia but I want to explore an instance where SR pulls both literature and music into one scene with Julia and Paul. In the scene Julia is testing Paul out as a friend (and possibly more) when she weighs in using a song that takes her back to her former bad relationship with “HIM” (otherwise known as Simon).

“Do you like Nine Inch Nails?” she asked, cupping her coffee in two hands.
Paul was taken aback by her question. “Uh, no. No, I don’t.” He shrugged. “Trent Reznor twists my head around. Unless he’s singing backup for Tori Amos. Why, do you?”
Julia shivered. “Absolutely not.”

He pulled a cd out of his briefcase and handed it to her. “I like this kind of stuff. Music I can write my dissertation to.”

“I’ve never heard of Hem before,” she mused, turning the jewel case over in her hand.
“They have a song I think you’ll like. It’s called Half Acre. They used to play it on an insurance ad on television, so you might have heard it before. It’s beautiful. And no one yells at you or screams or tells you he wants to fu — ” Paul stopped suddenly and reddened. He was trying very hard to watch his language around her but having only marginal success.

She tried to hand the cd back to him, but he refused. “I bought it for you. Rabbit Songs for the Rabbit.”
(Ch 11, p 121, Gabriel’s Inferno)

In this scene at the Starbucks Julia finds out what she needs to know about Paul through the use of 3 songs. Closer, by Nine Inch Nails (#’s 7, 8, & 9 on the playlist), the implied song, Past The Mission by Tori Amos featuring Trent Reznor, singer of Nine Inch Nails (#128 on the playlist), and Half Acre by Hem (#127 on the Playlist). SR says just enough to make you want to go do your homework. You want to go find the songs and their lyrics to see what hidden or overt meaning may lie in the voices, instruments and lyrics of the songs. Half Acre also ties us to literature in that Rabbit has become Paul’s “pet” name for Julia which is also tied to the children’s story, The Velveteen Rabbit written by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson (#129 on the playlist)…which then brings us to the art found in the illustrations, all tied together so that again SR has you running to the book to read it and explore the pictures on the pages. His writing is so complete, it fills my heart. I feel inspired. I feel the feelings of the characters. I feel.

Admit it. You read, you cry, you get mad and yell at the pages, you fall in love, you get angry, you swoon, you sing along, get lost in the colors of the art and you find yourself exploring books you never thought you would pick up. SR is a teacher. His writing sparks the lifelong learner in us all. At least that is how it is for me.

What does Julia feel when she hears Trent Reznor’s voice ring out in harsh tones saying, “ I wanna fuck you like an animal!”? It isn’t just the song and it’s lyrics. It fits her personality that she wouldn’t like that song, but it is the time, place, people and traumatic event that it transports her to that makes her truly shudder. You are My Sunshine could be playing during a traumatic event and a person could be poisoned against it and what it now represents to them. This is a time she does not want to relive. People she wants to leave in her past. She wants to make sure Paul and Gabriel are not another Simon.

Julia worries about Gabriel having a whole channel devoted to NIN in his car. “And you like them?” “When I’m in a particular mood.” P55 She worries about him in the beginning.

In the Lobby scene Gabriel screws up by commenting on the song making light of it not knowing what her history with it is.

“It was a joke. And in poor taste. Forgive me. I would never request that song for a dance with you. It would be the worst form of blasphemy, to expose someone like you to words like that.” P 102

He apologizes but the use of the song carries with it Julia’s limited experience with men and she uses it as a tool to not make the same mistake and it sometimes colors her judgment.

Past the Mission is like a little test. I am familiar with Tori Amos and knew the song he was speaking of when he said Trent Reznor sang backup, but others that might not have been familiar with it just might have run to Google (but I hope not Wikipedia ;-) to find the song. For that matter they might have had to do the same with NIN since SR did not mention that Closer was the song Julia was thinking of but we know from earlier in the book.

Half an Acre by Hem was new to me. (I did run to Google and You Tube ;-)

This part of the lyrics is where I see Julia through Paul’s eyes:

…Think of every town you've lived in
every room you lay your head
and what is it that you remember?
Do you carry every sadness with you
every hour your heart was broken
every night the fear and darkness
lay down with you
A man is walking on the highway
A woman stares out at the sea
and light is only now just breaking
So we carry every sadness with us
every hour our hearts were broken
every night the fear and darkness
lay down with us
But I am holding half an acre
torn from the map of Michigan
I am carrying this scrap of paper
that can crack the darkest sky wide open
every burden taken from me…


“Every burden taken from me.” Paul wants to take away Julia’s pain. He speaks to her through this song and through The Velveteen Rabbit story searching to be loved. Paul wants to be that person desperately but he also will not stand in the way. He is noble. Book 3 if there is one SR? HEA for Paul please ;-) .

I love the music in these stories. I love the way they make me feel be it joy, sad, happy, scared, passionate or angry. I love the way they prepare me for what is coming up in the story or how I can find a deeper meaning as I read and listen again and again. I feel. Do you?

See next post for the music listing on tumblr


#on blog

Youtube playlists:





Anonymous said...

Yes I definately agree about the music and how it makes you feel...and finding a deeper connection with the storyline!

~Elli~Iris~ said...

Thanks for your comments Debi. Music means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to SR as well as does the art and literature e uses in his books. I look forward to see how it will be used in #Gabriel3.

Maria said...

Thank you Ellis~Iris! When I reread GI & GR, I will have this page in front of me. My mother was a musician; I grew up listening to classical music but have an appreciation for all music. I also like to associate certain songs with a book or passages in a book. SR definitely broaden my knowledge in not only music but in literature, art, religion, history & charitable causes. He also inspires all of us to learn more & do better!

~Elli~Iris~ said...

Yes he does on all accounts Maria! There is some classical and jazz on the playlist as well.
Music was important, is important in my family. My father was a teacher and choir director. He sang tenor in choirs, played the piano by ear (and in 5 or 6 flats. He taught himself using the black keys as a guide.) and he played the french Horn and trumpet. He sang in choirs growing up and in church and he played in the church bell choir until he couldn't hold the bells anymore.

My mother plays piano, bells, clarinet and used to play the bassoon. She also sand alto in choirs. Her father was a percussionist.

I sang in choirs, played a little piano and played clarinet. I sang in a few bands in my teen and young adult life. My husband was a percussionist and taught himself to play the guitar and bass so he could be a one man band.

At any rate music was and is important and I enjoy music from many different genres. Depending on how I feel. ;-)

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