Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

Strange Bedfellows…Make Beautiful Music

On Monday of this week, I was reminded that things we view as incompatible might sometimes work together better than we dreamed possible.

Why Monday? It was the day my college-aged daughter flew back to school after her winter break and played the piano for a panel of music professors. Professors who would ultimately decide whether or not she was accepted into the music department at her university. And it was so far removed from her selected major that we were all shocked (but very happy) when she called us out of the blue last semester to say she’d made an appointment to play for one of the music teachers. She did, and that appointment evolved into an invitation to play for the panel. She played a piece that none of the teachers were familiar with. But it gained her acceptance into the program.

Hikari from Kingdom Hearts
Hikari from Kingdom Hearts

Why had the professors never heard of this piece? Because it’s from a video game. Yes…really. Remember that incompatibility factor I mentioned at the beginning? Well, my daughter’s chosen major is computer programming with an emphasis on video game design. And although she’s taken piano and classical guitar lessons for most of her childhood, she’d decided music and programming were incompatible. She had to choose one…or the other.

She chose programming.

And then she made a startling discovery while playing a video game called Kingdom Hearts. The musical score from the game was incredible. She began doing research about the music and found two of the pieces were performed by a Japanese singer named Utada Hikaru (who is now one of my daughter’s favorite singers). So she learned to play both of the songs over the past two years, just for fun. It still hadn’t clicked that two of things she loved most might actually complement each other—until last semester when she found herself trekking to the practice rooms at school and playing her heart out as a way to reduce stress. And then it dawned on her: why couldn’t she combine music and programming? Kingdom Hearts certainly had.

She passed the proficiency test, and the original teacher asked her why she wouldn’t consider changing her major to music, but I think my daughter views this as a trial run. But one thing is certain, she no longer thinks music and her dream of designing video games are incompatible goals. She realizes that each element has the potential to make the other stronger. Music has enhanced Kingdom Hearts and vice-versa. If you’re curious about the piece she chose to perform, here’s a link to someone else playing it:

She’s taught me a lot, this daughter of mine. Her realization made me rethink the way I pair heroes and heroines in my books. Is it possible that seemingly incompatible personality traits might make for a stronger bond? I don’t know for certain, but I plan on doing some experimenting over the next couple of books. Hope my characters are ready!

What do you think? Is incompatibility in the eye of the beholder? Sometimes? Always? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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15 thoughts on “Strange Bedfellows…Make Beautiful Music”

    1. It really is a beautiful piece. I had no idea some video games had that type of music. I’m hopeless when it comes to playing anything that involves a controler or a joystick. I can barely work our television remote! 😉

      And I’m really proud of my daughter for having the courage to think outside the box and daring to play something different.

  1. Tina,
    What a wonderful story. Your daughter sounds amazing and I love the music. Two incompatible people do make for great fun. I look forward to seeing the sparks from your characters.

    1. Hi Susan, my husband and I have very different personalities. He’s an off-the-charts extrovert, whereas I tend to lean toward the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m cautious and slow to accept change, and he’s the opposite…he thrives on activities that get his adrenaline flowing. But somehow we’ve made it for almost 30 years of marriage. On my more optimistic days, I’d say that we provide the other with balance. On my not-so-optimistic days…well, we won’t talk about those. 😉

  2. Love the music link. It’s wonderful that your talented daughter has found a way to mesh two of her loves.

    I think opposites do attract each other and as long as there is some give and take involved they can live happily ever after. Commitment and compromise are both needed.

    1. Hi Kaelee! Glad you liked the music. I’ve heard it many, many times as my daughter practiced. I still love it.

      And I totally agree with you. Give and take is essential in any relationship…even more so if those differences run to the extreme. That’s when, as you said, commitment and compromise come into play.

  3. Sorry I’m late. I always forget Thursdays at LIBM. Well, first off, congratulations on your super talented daughter. What a lovely piece of music. I’ve always loved movie soundtracks and think some of the most gorgeous music ever written was for films. One film out now in US is called Gangster Squad and is a 1950s period piece about thugs in L.A. and the music they’ve chosen is current and edgy and when I saw the previews I thought – this is all wrong! Well, I was wrong, because the more I listened to it, the rap influenced sound seemed to hit the hardcore feel of the movie and what it was portraying.

    Another seemingly incompatibility is medicine and prose, right? If that isn’t strange bedfellows, I don’t know what is!

    Please keep us in the loop about your incompatible characters – should make for a lot of tension on the page.

    1. Very interesting about the music to Gangster Squad. I really love it when the music fits the mood of movies. I’ll have to go check it out…maybe the movie has arrived here as well.

      And very good point about medicine and prose being strange bedfellows. Maybe that’s what makes Medicals so complex and interesting. Makes me wonder if I tend to write darker illnesses/situations for darker characters. I need to go back and check.

      I’ll let you know how the character experimentation goes!

  4. Hey Tina – and wow! I think its just amazing the endless possibilities open to the newer generations coming along these days and the fact they dont have to lock themselves into a box and stay there.
    I think its brilliant and I bet your daughter is going to kick serious gaming arse!
    I can hear your pride in every word. Well done to a great Mum too.

    1. The younger generation really does have some wonderful opportunities in today’s world, don’t they, Amy? Makes me a bit envious at times.

      My daughter has always been open to challenge, and swimming against the tide doesn’t faze her a bit. I’d like to think she inherited the best parts of my hubby and I: stubbornness from me…and spontaneityand love of adventure from my hubby. Another example of incompatible traits that can work well together. 🙂

  5. Wow, that is an incredible piece of music. I’m not a huge piano fan, but there are always exceptions and this is a gorgeous one. Good for you daughter practicing and challenging herself in a new, or should I say, evolved direction. Do I think music and her video gaming are compatible? Absolutely, but then I have one daughter combining fiddling and an Arts Administration degree. And another daughter is combining bagpiping and preaching. Yeah, go figure–but it works for them. Nancy

    1. Oh wow, Nancy! Those are great combinations! I love both fiddling (I’m a country music fan) and bagpiping (I have some Scottish roots). And I love what your daughters are each combining those instruments with. Sounds like you come from a musical (and diverse) family as well.

      Thanks for the insight. It’s so interesting to hear how people put their varied talents to use. Yay for your daughters (and you, for doing such a wonderful job raising them)! You must be incredibly proud of their accomplishments!

  6. Hi Tina, lovely piece of music and congratulations to your daughter for having made the most of her musical talent as well as her talent for programming! I’ve met a few programmers who were also very musically talented and the two do seem to go together.

    When I was at school we had to choose either arts of science subjects when we were sixteen, and I had a huge battle to do a mixture – English, Chemistry and Biology A-levels (at age 16-18). Fortunately my parents supported me and I’ve never regretted it. Although then I was the first person at that particular school who’d mixed the two disciplines at that level, children are now encouraged to get a broader education, which I think is brilliant. I’ve done programming and writing in the years since and although I can’t fully explain why, planning a book and designing a program seem to exercise the same skills to me – each requires logic and the ability to think through cause and effect, along with creativity.

    Well done to your daughter, and all the other young people out there, who have the ability and the gumption to think out of the box!

    1. Hi Annie, I read somewhere that people who are good at math tend to be good at music as well. That surprised me (although music was my minor in college and I enjoy math, so I guess it shouldn’t have).

      Yay on breaking out of that box and mixing those subjects…sounds like you were blazing a trail which others would soon follow. We need more people willing to do just that. I agree that a broad education can only benefit a child in the long run.

      Your description of planning a book and designing a program made perfect sense! They do have a lot in common, and I think it helps me understand a little better how my daughter can love something “artsy” and something analytical all at the same time. Thanks!

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