Story and Music

MP900341537[1]When I read, the musicality of the prose is vital to my enjoyment of the story. Prose isn’t just words, but it’s cadence, it’s harmony and dissonance, staccato and legato. Stories must crescendo and decrescendo. Some stories fall flat, while others go sharp.

Like music, some books are simple, while others are complicated. Some authors take a simple story and then improvise around that basic story (the melody) creating a complex tune–creating beauty.

Check out the video below of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation) playing a duet of Frère Jacques. (Skip to 2:37 for this duet).

My favorite stories have a choral quality to them. I love prose that sings off the pages, characters who are multi-layered, and stories that dance around the basic plot without resolving until the end. As a musician, I know how gratifying it is to end a choral piece so well it invites spontaneous applause. My favorite novels invite the same reaction.

Like music, a well-told novel reaches past the heart to gut level. After the final notes of that novel have been played, you have been changed.

And that’s what I long to write.

Comments 3

  1. Me too, Bren. My musical skills are non-existent, but I know what I like when I hear it. Hopefully, some of that beauty translates to my prose, but I have to trust my ear to produce the song in my words. You have the distinct advantage of understanding and being able to create the music behind the words. No doubt you’ll achieve your desires in your work.

    1. I do hear it when I read your prose, Nicole, especially when you write first person. To me, that’s when your prose sings.

      I’m not at the level I wish to be…yet. When I’m re-reading my work, sometimes it sings back at me, while other times I’m hearing a lot of clunkers. My goal is to eliminate the clunkers.

      One problem I see in today’s writing is that the musicality I enjoy is often scorned. Choral prose isn’t lean enough for today’s reader. Personally, I like my prose with a little fat.

  2. Me too, Bren. I love description when it’s “musical” and well done, scenery that comes alive and stimulates the senses, all of it. Bring on the fat – experts now say not all of it is bad for you. 😉

    Thanks for the first person nod. Strange, huh, since most of my reading days I’ve liked first person the least. Oh well.

    Are any of us where we want to be? You will succeed with your desires. I know you will.

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