Saturday, May 17, 2014

Music in an Empty Cinema

I've always loved the music that plays in an empty cinema, before the screening begins. All my happiest memories of the cinema have as their setting the Omniplex in Santry, in which cinema I have seen several hundred films (and spent many, many happy hours.) They usually played spacey, swirly, atmospheric music with no lyrics. I liked the dreamy, contemplative atmosphere this created, which-- along with the darkness of the auditorium, the solitude, and the anticipation of the movie-- was utterly distinctive.

Unfortunately this cinema has now moved to playing a radio station (and a particularly moronic radio station) before screenings.

Sometimes they would play songs rather than simply mood music. I remember sitting there before one film (I don't remember the film), after having decided I would give up writing poetry as it was a waste of time and a pipe dream. (This was more than ten years ago.) I sat there listening to an orchestral version of 'She's Leaving Home', followed by 'Solitaire' by the Carpenters, and realised that I couldn't give up on writing poetry.

Piped music is, I think, one of the most profound of topics. (And the more incidental it is, the more profound I find it to be. Atmospheric music in a restaurant would be at the low end of this spectrum of profundity, but piped music in a shopping centre would be at the high end.) Music that is being played in the background, without any intention that anyone will be actively listening to it, has always fascinated me. It seems to me so symbolic, so suggestive of such deep things, that I've meant to put this impression into words for many, many years-- decades, in fact-- but I've always shied away from the task.

Anyway, that whole preamble is to say that this blog, for the foreseeable future, will be in hibernation mode. I have a great deal to attend to and don't envisage much time for writing original material.

But I will keep the blog going with previously-written (but previously unpublished) stuff, which might be worthwhile in itself.

The (mild) success of The Bard's Apprentice encourages me to serialize The Snowman: A Horror Story, which was a rather more ambitious book. It's also less cohesive than The Bard's Apprentice, as I wrote a second draft of The Bard's Apprentice but only a first draft of The Snowman. There are lots of loose ends and I plead your indulgence, gentle reader. It's also a much more adult story. There's lots of sex and violence, although you don't see any of the sex. (You see lots of the violence, though!)

My ambition with The Snowman was basically to transplant The Stand by Stephen King into Dublin. The plot is quite different, but I think the underlying spirit, and the idea of having lots of diffferent story-lines clustered around one central story, is quite similar. (I don't feel I'm plagiarising, as Stephen King admitted that The Stand was his own attempt to write a Lord of the Rings set in America.)

As well as this, I plan to publish a lot of my old poetry here. I have literally hundreds of old poems and many of them are no worse than the stuff I've published here already, some of which have been kindly received.

I'll post my remaining horror stories from A Hundred Nightmares.

I also intend to publish old articles from my column in The Catholic Voice. I've refrained from putting these on the blog until now, as I liked the idea of keeping them exclusive to print. But if I start with my first ones, back in November of last year, I think there's enough of a time delay to clear my of the accusation of double-jobbing!

As well as that, and whatever else of reasonable quality I can find lying around in my literary lumber-room, I am sure I will post original (or attemptedly original!) thoughts from time to time, though not nearly as frequently as before.

Anyway, I keep everyone who reads this blog (or ever did) in my prayers, and ask you to keep me in your own.


  1. I don't go to the cinema much so I can't remember too much about what happens before the film. I do remember times when it was a radio song. The last time I went I think it was utter silence. However, I do remember the times when they would either play easy-listening tracks that sounded like they were from films, or other times when they'd play the atmospheric music you described.

    I think they're is something intriguing about atmospheric music myself. While it might not be something you listen to to get excited or have fun, there is something about it that - without getting cheesy about it - seems quite deep. I've heard some atmospheric music that, to me at least, has an interesting way of playing on feelings or thoughts. Even though it can be easy to ignore, some atmospheric music can kind of touch you in a way that more in your face music can't. It's also good if you're trying to sleep too.

    Finally, with the reduced activity on this blog I might be able to catch up. Hopefully you can get through with whatever it is keeping you busy though.

  2. Well, your comment explains exactly what I was trying to say about atmospheric music!