Does loving music make you a better writer?
Right now, there's a bit of a linguistic debate going on in another thread. Briefly, there's a sentiment that overly mannered writing styles create a barrier to communication. This being Talkbass, there's a vigorous counter-sentiment. A disclaimer: I am a writer. I play music, and I have occasional flashes of inspired adequacy, but as a bass player...I make an excellent journalist. But I've been thinking a lot lately about the links between music and writing, and musicians and writers, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts.
I'm lucky because writing comes naturally to me, and my brain is very well wired to function in the realm of words. This doesn't mean it's always easy, and I know well the Terror Of The Blank Page, but I also know the feeling of prose clicking into place, more intuition than anything learned. Still...like a lot of writers, I've often wished I was built to be a musician. Writing is solitary, and not very sexy, and often frustrating. Sure, music is a hard road--but really, which caricature would you rather be? The backstage rock star with the riot of drug-fueled groupies, or the novelist in the dimmed room with the whiskey bottle?
With time, though, I've come to appreciate that I write with a musician's sensibility. I pay a lot of attention to rhythm, and phrasing, and timing, to euphony and tone. That's the subtle part of writing that seems innate, and there's real satisfaction in thinking that it's some reflection of my musicality--something I can't express as well with an instrument.
Now on TB, I see a really interesting range. We have some academics who impress with the precision of their language--though like most academic speak, it can get a bit clunky sometimes. (This isn't a critique: I think it's a function of that kind of analytical mind.) we have members who disdain allpunctiiation or spelllcheking becasse that's so 2oth cntry. We even have some sort of Expressionistic Word-Salad Free Verse poet, who seems to frustrate even the mods, but really fascinates me.
I would so love to discover the correlations and intersections of musical tastes, experiences, and verbal expression. I wonder if anyone else finds a synergy between the disciplines. Thoughts?
"I pay a lot of attention to rhythm, and phrasing, and timing, to euphony and tone. That's the subtle part of writing that seems innate, and there's real satisfaction in thinking that it's some reflection of my musicality--something I can't express as well with an instrument. "
I agree with this.
Generally, yes. But music has also been behind a ton of longwinded self-indulgent prose.
My writing and playing are very similar, overwhelming amounts of stupid with brief moments of slightly less stupid.
I don't know if i'd call myself a writer though cause i've never been paid for any of it but it's something i've kinda had to do throughout my life. Also i tend to not be very good at the finishing thing. But i'm not too worried, the majority of writers don't get good at it before they turn 40 so... i've still got time to try to make something out of that.
There's a class distinction between writing poetry and writing a song.
Many think that all songs are written from poetry because all songs are technically poetry to music.
I disagree with those who believe that.
Poets always start with words and end with words.
But if you are writing a song you can start from several points.... Music first, rhythm first, intros leading to vocals etc.
Loving music may make you a better song writer (if that is what you're asking) because you cannot escape having to factor in the music to the composition.
As one famous song writer said:- "if you can't remember the lines from a song...then those lines were too weak"
In any kind of writing brevity and quality are much more important than quantity.
It's easier to remember a short really good line than it is a long-winded barrage of dissertation.
Too many artists record a song where the vocals and lyrics are unrecognizable....and you need to go to LyricsAZ or some other site to find out what the hell they were saying.....not good.....
Most of the greatest artists/bands had clear vocals that could be easily understood and remembered...........like The Beatles for one example.....
The love of music definitely is a factor in writing a song.......
But songs are a different writing technique than say an article for a newspaper or poetry (although a lot of poems have been butchered and edited and reworked for songs).
Being grammatically correct is not all that important in a song lyric..........the use of jargon,slang, and words that have impact can work much better than being grammatically correct.
In songwriting it's all about the "hook line"..........or chorus with a good hook in it.
With songs you can interject arbitrary lines for effect although they may not rhyme.......Frank Zappa did this on more than one occasion....
I tend to start by writing the song and then adapting it to music..........but many will start off with a musical phrase and then create a song around it....
Old style poetry does not need a "hook" line nor does it need a bridge or chorus......
Many of the old school poets tended to ramble on and on...and were more interested in "decription" than repetition.
Modern airplay requires a song to be about 3 minutes or so long........whereas old school poetry can go on forever....
I'm not sure that the love of music makes one better at writing...writing is writing but depends on what you're applying it to and the style needed...
Song writing is largely about emotional impact and the ability to be readily interpreted by those who hear it.
You are not parsing a sentence....you are writing a song.....
You are not writing chapters and paragraphs....you are writing a song....
Nobody gives a hoot if you went to Harvard.....you are writing a song......
However it does pay to be literate and word savvy........to find the right word for a line so it doesn't sound 'clunky" or "awkward".....
Love of music could equal= love of songs, which could equal= love of writing songs, which could equal= a person being a better writer by default maybe.....
In the Beatle song "Bungalow Bill" there is a line starting "Not when he look so fear".........it works in that song but it's a mile off the mark grammatically...
There's a difference between "clever" (which in that song it is).....to coming off "clunky" as in the Ringo Starr song that uses the line "and then it makes it hard to find the door" for example.....
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