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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
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.