Write2Day: Music and the Written Word


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Over the last few years, I’ve come to appreciate the interconnectedness of all the various expressions of art. Consider how many photographic bloggers participate in poetry communities. How often do you see prose or poetry bloggers insert links to music in their work? Or how about visual or performance arts as an inspiration for the written word? Today, I’d like to present a few brief thoughts about how music and writing are wed.

Music and meter.

We discover an obvious connection between music and poetry when we write or read form poetry, which often is defined by meter. But even in prose, the writer often (consciously or not) seeks to create a rhythmic sequence of words that is pleasing to the ear. I’ve found myself searching for a word of a certain number of syllables or with emphasis on a particular syllable because my ear tells me it will work better than the word I may have chosen in the first place.

Music as a metaphor.

Use of musical metaphors can be so effective in evoking certain moods. Think about how you “feel” listening to a symphony as opposed to hip-hop. There are scenes where I’ve mentioned background music just for the purpose of creating an emotion. Use of musical instructive words, words that tell the musician to slow down (adagio), speed it up (allegro), play louder (forte) or softer (pianissimo) are just a few examples of techniques to add an emotional context to both prose and poetry. There is a very useful glossary of musical terminology at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_terminology

Music as Inspiration.

Many writers and artists use music to help inspire their work. I once read in a novel-writing how-to book (sorry, I can’t remember which one) the suggestion to create a sound track that represents the nature of your manuscript.

For today’s prompt, let’s turn to music. Here’s a few suggestions of how you might do that:

  • Write a form poem that calls for a specific meter such as iambic pentameter.
  • Use music as the subject of your short fiction or poem.
  • Employ a musical metaphor in your work.
  • Write a short essay on how you use music in your writing, or how music has influenced you in the past.

To participate, post your work on your blog. Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and include your name and the direct URL of your post. Visit and comment on other participants in this prompt. Have fun with it!

Here’s a poem I posted a while back, a sestina, that combines music as a metaphor and meter.

Photo: David Slotto

Song of Songs

a Sestina

All the world’s a stage set to music.

You stroke my life like strings of Your guitar.

We’re born to fly so Your touch of gentleness

sounds a chord in my core that thrills.

Round and round You lead me in a dance—

the whirling rhythm swirls in my heart.

Rejoice, oh world; you hold grief in your heart.

Defy those who claim silence lacks all music.

Refute the clowns who refuse to dance—

Who, though called to joy, strum a dirge on their guitars.

Avoid the fool who rejects life’s thrill,

who sinks into the void with gentleness.

At dawn, mockingbird chants a song of gentleness

awakens the earth, enlivens her heart.

You stir in my Spirit-womb, Your Presence thrills.

Your promised love resounds of music,

Your hands play me as You would play Your guitar.

Our beings entwine and we enter the dance.

The earth and stars conspire to join the dance.

Ocean waves lick the sands with gentleness,

winds pluck the strings of willow tree guitars

while rain plants seeds in Earth—the Mother’s heart.

By day, the sun sings bliss—at night moon-music

plays arpeggios You designed to thrill.

I hear the door You open with a thrill,

arise to greet Your entry with a dance,

breath in the air You fill with sounds of music,

surrender to the call of gentleness,

responding to the rhythm of Your heart—

the wild beat of a classical guitar.

Submit my soul to music, the stroke of Your guitar,

Your voice, Your gentleness, never fail to thrill.

I yield to the tempo of your dance, lay down my heart.

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27 thoughts on “Write2Day: Music and the Written Word

  1. Shawna says:

    I’ve linked a new one that employs a musical metaphor.

    Like

  2. MISH says:

    Music is such an integral part of life… and source of inspiration for millions of artists…
    I remember this delightful sestina, Victoria. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  3. Hi Victoria …
    This was from one of your past prompts called “The ARtist in You.”
    I’ve reposted due to time limitations. It is fitting for this one, as well.
    Thanks for these great prompts.
    Your sestina is maravilloso … y lleno de amor. ( marvelous and filled with love)
    Namaste,
    Izzy
    http://insidethemindofisadora.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/windsong/

    Like

  4. Shawna says:

    “Who, though called to joy, strum a dirge on their guitars.” … What an excellent reminder that we can choose what kind of music we “play” with our lives.

    I also noticed that while most of your song was written up tempo and high, you did slow down and go low in one section, as is common in any styling. There is certainly music in your poetry.

    Like

  5. Shawna says:

    I didn’t realize you were doing a prompt today as well. I just wanted to let you know that my Monday Melting word-prompt is now up, in case you wanted to participate this week.

    http://rosemarymint.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/monday-melting-week-2/

    Like

  6. David King says:

    Love your sestina. Just wish I’d seen this post earlier.

    Like

  7. Music is at the heart of my writing and inspiration in seeing what the eyes capture in my photographs. Thank you for sharing such a great post.

    Like

  8. Pat Hatt says:

    Like the musical quality you performed with this verse. I sometimes listen to music as I go, but a lot of the time I finds it gets in the way of my muse I guess, so off it goes.

    Like

  9. souldipper says:

    Victoria, what Love! You really do live this soulfully, sensually and soundly. I can feel it in every fiber as I read.

    Like

  10. brian says:

    very nice victoria…i always listen to music while i write…it helps me get into the way to shape the words…funny when i try to write in meter it is a struggle if prescribed but if i let it develop i find it so much easier…

    Like

  11. realnhonest says:

    I love this. You’re an amazing writer. I’m glad I chose to follow your work. I’m not sure if you read my most recent blog but it is oddly enough incorporates a song that inspired me. http://justrealnhonest.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/its-okay-to-be-happy/ (Thanks also for that wiki link because I’ve started back taking voice lessons and totally forgot what those terms meant, lol.)

    Like

  12. klrs09 says:

    Beautiful. and inspiring.

    Like

  13. munchow says:

    All art forms are connected in one way or another, and your observation is spot when it comes to new technology bringing it all together. For me it’s all coming together when I make multimedia programs. But also in everyday, both writing and music is very important to me – being a photographer. Most photographers I know certainly use music as inspiration. Thanks for the sestina, I really love that little poem.

    Like

  14. Bodhirose says:

    What a beautiful sestina, Victoria…tells of a beautiful love. I’ve tried my hand at the prompt today and linked in. Now, can I manage an ‘ode’ for dVerse Poets…not so sure about that! xo

    Like

  15. […] Write2Day–Music and the Written Word:  https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/write2day-music-and-the-written-word/ […]

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  16. ayala says:

    Victoria, a beautiful write.

    Like

  17. […] https://liv2write2day.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/write2day-music-and-the-written-word/ gives us Music as a kick-off point in today’s prompt.  The quasi-sonnet was written for a course assignment several years ago, and was also posted on my blog in 2010. […]

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  18. viv blake says:

    Gorgeous prompt and poem: I’m in the middle of writing something for it, but keep getting interrupted!

    Like

  19. zongrik says:

    i put up a poem i did for one stop a while ago

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    • zongrik says:

      the line “refute the clowns who refuse to dance” meant a lot to me. it means that clowns are sad and can’t dance, clowns think too much of themselves to dance, it’s silly not to dance, people who are full of themselves and don’t want to let go and dance are clowns…and more and more.

      Like

  20. claudia says:

    oh victoria…you know this is so right up my alley…i have this built in meter which drives me crazy at times and makes me shift the words until they fit… and music surely is an inspiration…loved your sestina…crazy busy over here at the moment but may be able to write something for the prompt…

    Like

  21. ManicDdaily says:

    Hi Victoria, this is lovely one of my favorites of yours. It reminds me a bit of Mirabai or Kabir. I have a musical sonnet, but it’s a bit sour, so don’t know if I want to post unless I revise.

    Re your novel–I’m glad to download and review. I should get you mine, but it’s on Kindle for 99 cents and you know I’ve been very busy! Still not home but with my mom. Take care and good luck! (I’ll let you know before I post review.) K.

    Like

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