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Music and your MC

Spotify says it understands people. From the music folks choose to hear, it knows who they are and what they want. It knows exactly who to sell specifically what, and precisely when.

Fiddledeedee, I thought, you can’t catch me. But, they’re on to something.

Ask somebody you meet what music they like. Your naughty mind will riff on their answers, fill in some gaps about them, make giant leaps over others. No? Consider your response to the following possible answers:

  • ‘I’m a Belieber!’

  • ‘Post-modern classical, minimalist, Glass.’

  • ‘Oh, anything really, s’long as it has a good beat, bit of a tune.’

  • ‘Hate music.’

There was a guy I knew who despised music. Didn’t trust it, he said. Music made him feel emotions, unexpected ones. He didn’t like that, avoided hearing it.

Another guy I knew thought he'd tapped music’s power. Before doing important stuff, he’d listen to Beethoven’s ninth symphony. Came out the other side convinced he could take over the world, he said.

Don't pretend you're not drawing a few conclusions about those two fellas.

Like me, you may have listened to a friend’s fave tunes, and suddenly, with absolute clarity, understood all your happy similarities (or profound differences).

The songs you treasure most plot your story. Your main character (MC) has their own soundtrack.

Music can tell us more about our made-up friends then what they carry in their pockets. Ian Rankin famously uses it to develop his MC, Rebus, a vinyl man in a digital age. The music Haruki Murakami includes in his characters’ lives has its own website.

Let's find our MC’s inner beat, their relationship with music. Hope you have fun with it.

  1. What do they listen to on a goodor bad day, on a sunny or rainy day?*

  2. Is what they listen to in private the same as in company?

  3. How broad is their taste, how flexible, how tolerant of other people's?

  4. Can they / do they play an instrument, if so how well? How happily?

  5. Under what circumstances do they dance? What are their moves?

  6. If they’ve considered the playlist for their funeral, what is it?

  7. What was sung to them as a child and who sang it?

  8. How do they feel about opera?

  9. Radio, streamed, vinyl, wax-cylinder, mini-disc, reel-to-reel, cassette, CD? And, headphones or speakers. How old/quality is their set-up?

  10. Do they set the volume at polite background level or cranked up to eleven?

  11. How important is it to them to know/tell the history of the music/musician?

  12. Do they sing along? What is their response if somebody else starts to?

  13. Is there a piece of music that should never be played in their presence? Why, and what if you did?

  14. Are, or have they ever been, a superfan, a member of a musical tribe? How’d that work out for them?

  15. Do they hum, or whistle, tap fingers or toes? If so, do they know?

*Here's a handy list of music genres, and a handy list of songs your readers may have heard of.

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