Reveals behind the music: Imagine Dragons

Axyl Thorne illustration

My character, Axyl Thorne, is a famous rock star  in the Fae realm of Delfaerune… easily as famous as Imagine Dragons in our human world. 😀 Art by Stacy Lefevre

While conducting research on some of my favorite bands, I found out some fascinating trivia about the musicians behind the music, and thought you might get a kick out of it, too.

Let’s start with Imagine Dragons, a four-member alternative/pop/indie rock band based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Did you know…

  • Three of the four members in the band share the first name “Daniel:”
    • Dan Reynolds (lead singer)
    • Daniel Wayne Sermon (guitar)
    • Daniel Platzman (drums)
    • Ben McKee (bass)
  • Reynolds, child #7 in a family with 9 children, earned Eagle Scout status. He also stands 6’4″ tall.
  • Sermon is one of five children.
  • All the members of the band except Reynolds, attended the Berklee School of Music in California.
  • Platzman received his degree in film scoring, and has received the Vic Firth Award for Outstanding Musicianship and the Michael Rendish Award in Film Scoring.
  • Two of the Dans—Reynolds and Sermon—are Mormon, and married, girls. Sorry.
  • Reynolds’ wife Aja Volkman is an American musician, best known as the front woman for the indie rock band Nico Vega.
  • Sermon married ballerina/writer/photographer Alexandra Hill.
  • McKee was arrested on the Las Vegas Strip for public nudity. He later stated in a Billboard interview, “There were some bad choices being made. Vegas is a crazy place.”

What other trivia do you know about Imagine Dragons?




Carpool karaoke: Jam with James Corden


This BuzzFeed sampling shows you a video series that totally delights me. James Corden, of The Late, Late Show fame, sings along with Adele, Sia, One Direction, Stevie Wonder

Thank you, you brilliant funny man, for Carpool Karaoke.

Who would you like to see riding in James’ van as he sings his way to work?
Do you already have a favorite?

If music plays in the forest, you should be there to hear it.


Xylophone in the Forest,” in the Hokkaido Garden Show, was used to advertise a Japanese mobile phone company.

This happens to be an indescribably beautiful idea. When I have my own forest, I will make one of these instruments.

Cheers to Ruben Mandolini for posting this video.

Hear 38 songs future readers contributed to my novel

Song of the Ocarina cover

The cover! Illustration John Taylor, production layout Michael Feather

I just created a Spotify playlist so you can hear 38 of the nearly 50 songs my future readers contributed to my pending novel Song of the Ocarina. Each of these songs will appear in the book as a tune my heroine Lark plays on her iPod, a melody one of the characters hums, or as background music at events throughout the plot line.

The story is filled with musicians, and my heroine is a musical prodigy, so expect a wide range of genres, with quite a few geared toward the 18–25-aged crowd.

Every future reader who suggested a song will see their name printed in my novel when it’s published (soon!). Check out my other blog entry for a sneak peak of that list.

Tell me what you think!


Write on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth

Discover at least two unique musical textures

River stone path

Like these river stones—on a path in Highlands Ranch, CO— I love the varying textures in both of these songs.

I simply had to share these two completely different musical gems:

  • Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” (Sung in 20 Styles) by Ten Second Songs.
    Talk about your diverse vocal stylings… 

What do you think?
Are you amazed, too?

What do John Denver and Fred Stobaugh have in common?

They both wrote touching music for their wives.

John Denver's guitar at the MIM

Though probably not on “This Old Guitar,” displayed at the Musical Instrument Museum,” Denver did compose “Annie’s Song” for his wife. Just like Fred composed “Sweet Lorraine.”

One of my all-time favorite John Denver songs, “Annie’s Song,” he wrote for his wife at the time, Annie Martell Denver. It became Denver’s second number-one song in the United States, so ranked for two weeks in July 1974. [It carries a specific connection for me, too, as it inspired a pivotal scene for my Rhythms & Muse novel.]

Fred Stobaugh wrote “Sweet Lorraine” after the passing of his wife of 73 years in 2013. He entered it into Green Shoe Studios‘ songwriting contest, by sending in an old-school, hand-written letter. Touched by the heartfelt lyrics, Green Shoe brought Fred’s song to life through its generous creativity and production. The song reached #1 in the iTunes singer/songwriter category in August 2013.

For the whole story, see the sweet little documentary, “A Letter from Fred,” on YouTube.

I simply needed to share this, even if it is a year old. Prepare for inspiration and subsequent tears.

Can you share a similar story?


Write on! (or in this case, “Far-r-r-r Out!)
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth

Brilliant idea to turn subway turnstiles into music

NYC deserves as much beauty underground as it does topside, don't you think? Photo: ©2008 ANVidean

NYC deserves as much beauty underground as it does topside, don’t you think?
Photo: ©2008 ANVidean

Leave it to a musician to think of a way to make the New York subways more beautiful! Musician James Murphy suggests, in this video, how the city might replace the unpleasant turnstile notes that benefit sightless folk, with harmonic tones to please everyone. Tuned notes would chime as people pass through the turnstiles, making music instead of mismatched sounds. He also suggests a way that won’t cost the city additional monies.

Eric Whitacre answers audience questions at ASU, Oct. 24.  Photo: ©ANVidean 2013

Eric Whitacre answers audience questions at ASU, Oct. 24.
Photo: ©ANVidean 2013

Did I mention “brilliant?”

Thank you, composer Eric Whitacre for yet another wonderful share. You always demonstrate such exceptional ideas on how music can benefit our lives!

Sleep to dream… Listen to my son’s dreams.

Five-song demo release, week of Feb. 10–15. © 2014 Cutter Videan

Five-song demo release, week of Feb. 10–15.
© 2014 Cutter Videan

I like to support young creatives, especially when it involves music… and, even more so, when it’s my son’s compositions.

Check out Cutter Videan’s five-song demo releasing this week, one song per day, on tumblr and bandcamp.

The first 200 downloads are free!

Seven words to encapsulate Eric Whitacre’s HIGHDEF music

Eric Whitacre answers audience questions at ASU, Oct. 24.  Photo: ©ANVidean 2013

Composer Eric Whitacre held an informal Q&A at Arizona State University, Oct. 24.   Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

My daughter Codi and I witnessed the brilliance of composer Eric Whitacre last night at Arizona State University. In Phoenix for a corporate speaking engagement, the fact that he offered to do a free, informal choral workshop and Q&A with the students and community, speaks volumes about this man’s quality.

Whitacre entered the Evelyn Smith Music Theatre to a standing ovation, and briefly critiqued one of his early compositions, “She Weeps Over Rahoon.“ The ASU Women’s Chorus performed the piece, under the direction of Ashley Conway, an ASU student earning her doctor of musical arts in music (conducting).

ASU Women's Choir workshop with Whitacre. Photo: ©ANVidean 2013

ASU Women’s Choir workshop with Whitacre.
Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Participation in the charming, inspirational hour following the critique—as Whitacre answered audience questions—solidified my perception of this man as one of the musical geniuses of our time. Whitacre filled the room with humility, a huge sense of humor, and an indomitable talent.

I could share so much, but to avoid gushing even more, I narrowed my comments to fit into seven aspects of Eric Whitacre’s music using the applicable seven-letter acronym: HIGHDEF.


Whitacre’s work comes from a deep place of feeling, rather than a development of the craft. He said, at the urging of a Julliard professor, he tried to create music by learning the craft of music, but never could. He must follow inspiration gained from his feelings—sometimes delving him deep into the trenches of emotion—to bring forth the desired result.


Poetry serves as a grand inspiration for his work. He originally wrote one of his popular

pieces, “Sleep,” to accompany the words of a Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” When he couldn’t get the poem’s rights, he asked his lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri to help create new text to match the original poem’s exact cadence. You can hear the stunning result for yourself.

Whitacre described music as the gold gilt emphasizing certain poignant aspects of a poem —much like scribes, long ago, used gold highlights on passages in hand-copied books. He also described certain poems as vibrating so much with their own meaning, no music could possibly enhance them.

The composer also explained how he tried teaching, and other music jobs, but eventually recognized composition as the only job he felt inspired to really do well. He paid his dues: quit his job, immersed himself in writing music, and took every commission offered. The persistence paid off.


Most people know Whitacre because of his virtual choirs, which grew from an experiment into a cultural phenom. Thousands of people audition via video, and he compiles the recordings into a “virtual” composition using the submitted videos with added animation. The most recent, “Fly To Paradise,” released three months ago, involved 8,409 videos, and 5,905 singers in 101 countries. Whitacre’s next virtual choir, not yet announced, will involve middle-school-age youngsters.

His ideal work right now, he said, would involve working on collaborations with the likes of Radiohead, Byork, Peter Gabriel, movie score composer Thomas Newman, and others. Yessss!

He shared genuine answers to all audience questions, including how he met his wife, and his spiritual beliefs. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

Whitacre shared genuine answers to all audience questions, including how he met his wife, and his spiritual beliefs. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean


A self-proclaimed agnostic, the composer said his music stems, rather than from divine inspiration, from the inspiration of humanity: love, anger, joy, children, and everything encompassing “human.”


The man is known for dissonance in his work, and also silence. One point he made in the workshop portion of the event, so impressed me. He talked to the singers about how to keep the music spinning through the musical rests. The choir responded to this abstract idea beautifully, and the audience could tangibly hear the “music” in the silence. Truly moving.


Most listeners cannot help but experience strong reactions inspired by Whitacre’s work. In my opinion, its intensity originates in the man’s personality. I can’t imagine meeting anyone with a more generous spirit, genuine spark for creativity, love for humanity, and non-stop sense of humor.


In his short workshop last night, he focused on specific and minute details, including the manner of directing, embodying the emotion behind the words and music, and even how using varying lengths when enunciating the letter “f” lend disparate emotions. The “before and after” flow and sound of his composition changed the piece completely, allowing the audience to hear Whitacre’s brilliant emotional intention.

I recommend, given any opportunity, make the effort to attend a talk or performance by Eric Whitacre. HIGHDEFinition quality indeed.

Music connects leaders to success

I just ran across a New York Times Sunday Review article asking, “Is Music the Key to Success?” It inspired me in this time of decline in music education in the United States.

My daughter Codi singing in the Arizona Regional choir last year. Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

My daughter Codi singing in the Arizona Regional choir last year. Can’t wait to see how she succeeds. 🙂  Photo: ©2013 ANVidean

The Oct. 12, 2013, article by Joanne Lipman, interviewed a number of highly successful people, who all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements beyond the math-music association.

Like whom? How about:

  • Paul Allen (billionaire co-founder of Microsoft), guitar
  • Woody Allen, clarinet
  • Alan Greenspan (former Federal Reserve chairman), clarinet and saxophone
  • Bruce Kovner (hedge fund billionaire), piano
  • Andrea Mitchell (NBC), violinist
  • Larry Page, (co-founder of Google), saxophone
  • Condoleeza Rice, piano
  • Chuck Todd  (NBC chief White House correspondent), French horn
  • Paula Zahn, cello

“Many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously,” the article said.

The article included a funny quote or two from Woody Allen, and some very cool connections between music and real life. If is definitely worth a read.

What other information have you run across that proves the importance of music in our country’s educational programs?


Play on!
Ann Narcisian Videan
Write • Edit • Self-publish • Word-of-mouth