Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stories, Adventure, Music, and Rhyme

JoAnn Arnold

Today I want to make a comparison. I have this book “The Craft of Lyric Writing”, by Sheila Davis. As I browsed through the chapter headings, I realized that the advice given in this book of lyric writing is much like a book we might study on writing a good story.

In writing children’s musicals and a musical about Joseph smith, I found that the music and the lyrics are a story within themselves. The emotions of the music and the rhythm of the lyrics go hand in hand with the emotions of a story and the rhythm of the theme.

Irving Berlin said, “A good song embodies the feelings of the people, and a songwriter is not much more than a mirror which reflects those feelings. If I can manage to put into words and music the feelings of the kid from Podunk and the one from the Bowery . . . then I’ll have something.”

I ask, “Is it any different for an author?”

Here are some of the chapter headings:

“Picking Your treatment and Choosing a Point of view.” (Vital when writing a story)
“Focusing on the Time, the Place and the Plot.” (We hear that one quite often)
“Feeling the Rhythm.” (Maybe the words are different but the idea is the same)
“Avoiding Common Pitfalls.” (Yes!)
“Review – Revise – Fine tune.” (Does this sound a little like: rewrite, rewrite, rewrite?)

In the words of Sheila Davis. “Lyrics that resonate with universally felt emotions foster strong identification between the performer and the audience. A song is successful when an audience responds with a recognition that says: “’Me, too . . . I’ve felt that . . . I’ve seen what you’ve seen . . . I know what you mean.’” This what our applause says. The performer is singing not so much to us as for us.”

In an author’s words, I think it would be said that the story that resonates with universally felt emotions foster strong identification between author and reader. . . . . . the author is writing not so much to the reader as for the reader . . . . .

Alexander Pope put it this way: “True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance.”

Oscar Hammerstein said: “technique and professional polish do not make a song . . . there is an element much less tangible: sincerity.”

What do you think? Could a songwriter and an author go through much the same process in order to be successful in their trade?

Having written stories, music and lyrics, I would say, “Yes, yes, yes.”

I want to wish you all a Very Happy New Year and thank you for stopping by.


Rebecca Talley said...

Sounds like a good book. I've never put the two together but now that you;ve mentioned it, songwriting and novel writing do seem to go hand in hand.