Have you ever wondered what a Haruki Murakami playlist would sound like? Music feels like second nature in a Murakami novel — and when you put all of those songs together, it is quite an eclectic mix.
For some background, you should check out Murakami’s essay (The New York Times: “Jazz Messenger“) with his reflections on music, and writing –
“Whether in music or in fiction, the most basic thing is rhythm. Your style needs to have good, natural, steady rhythm, or people won’t keep reading your work. I learned the importance of rhythm from music — and mainly from jazz. Next comes melody — which, in literature, means the appropriate arrangement of the words to match the rhythm. If the way the words fit the rhythm is smooth and beautiful, you can’t ask for anything more. Next is harmony — the internal mental sounds that support the words. Then comes the part I like best: free improvisation. Through some special channel, the story comes welling out freely from inside. All I have to do is get into the flow. Finally comes what may be the most important thing: that high you experience upon completing a work — upon ending your “performance” and feeling you have succeeded in reaching a place that is new and meaningful. And if all goes well, you get to share that sense of elevation with your readers (your audience). That is a marvelous culmination that can be achieved in no other way.
Practically everything I know about writing, then, I learned from music. It may sound paradoxical to say so, but if I had not been so obsessed with music, I might not have become a novelist. Even now, almost 30 years later, I continue to learn a great deal about writing from good music.”
GalleyCat has this wonderful post: “Spotify Playlists for Writers: Haruki Murakami” (including Sinfonietta, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Archduke Trio, The Thieving Magpie, and lots of others). Random House has a list of classical music and where it appears in Murakami’s novels.
And Wind-Up Bird Chronicle set to music? Cool.
“Wind-Up Bird Preludes engages in some pretty head-spinning musical and literary referencing. The title of the set comes from Haruki Murakami’s massive novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Murakami’s novel itself is divided into three separately published parts, each named after classical pieces, respectively Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, Schumann’s Bird as Prophet and “Birdcatcher” in reference to Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Jazz music also plays a central roll in the musical backdrop of the novel. I was always impressed by the sophistication and depth of meaning in Murakami’s choices of these pieces and thought it would be an interesting project to bring these presences of to Rossini, Schumann, Mozart, and jazz full circle as fleeting presences in a set of pieces that respond to the form of his novel.
Throughout Chronicle, the titular “wind-up bird” is heard—though never seen—by various characters, and its appearance often coincides with, or even prophecises, the onset of some calamity. That role of the bird in his novel seems to draw a clear line to that of the magpie in Rossini’s opera, whose thieving ways create the central dramatic conflict. In a more earthbound reference, the novel’s protagonist is searching for his wife, with the parallels to Papageno being obvious.”
Not that I’m obsessive, or anything, but Murakami translator Jay Rubin also did a book which also delves more into the topic (and other things): Haruki Murkami and the Music of Words.
And The Guardian (“Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood to score film of Haruki Murakami novel“) has a Radiohead/Norwegian Wood connection that I did not know about before.