Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We gather the music of words to create a story

A few days ago I went to a band camp concert. My daughter was one of the players. As I sat there listening to the rising and falling notes, flutes coming in as clarinets drop away, background drums rolling in crescendo and tubas filling the brief spaces in between, my heart racing and relaxing with each movement, I realized that a good book is much the same.

The opening lines just like the first notes played introduce the vision: science fiction with electronic tones, romance flutes of the first attracting glance, Bronte storms in the kettle drums, piano-keyed mysteries or an oboe lilt of a cobra rising from the basket of an Agatha Christi novel. Each rise in the action another movement to thrill the reader.

The middle movements fill us with ideas, emotions, connecting us as a group to a single vision.  And the final notes, whether sudden and thrashing or softly fading away, give us a sense of closure and completeness.

Writers, like conductors, construct a story with the instruments at hand. We have our characters, imagery, setting, rising action, inciting event, climax, pacing and conclusion just as they have their woodwinds, keys, capriccio, adagio, brass, cymbals and the like. We create an experience, one the reader/listener wishes to experience again and again.

Sitting there caught up in the music of the moment, a part of me felt the desire to race from the auditorium and compose my own worded score, to put into words the images that floated before my eyes in response to the pull the music gave to my imagination. But the other part of me wished to remain to listen as my daughter and her fellow musicians crafted musical stories in my head.

Learning to play an instrument is as essential as learning to write. Not all of us will be great musicians any more than all of us can be best selling writers. But all of us need to experience the attempt to make music, write poetry, paint a picture, sculpt a figure, or crochet an afghan. From each experience we gain much and, on occasion, find beauty to inspire others and be inspired.

What inspires you? 


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