where the writers are
Music and Prose: Character and Voice

This is a digression.

I was planning to go right to structure, but couldn't without discussing character first, and its musical equivalent.

The flute solo in my last post, Syrinx, illustrated not only parts, patterns, and structure, but also character. We can think of it as a monologue, written to showcase the flute's clear, angelic tone, broad range, timbrel variety, and lyrical agility, and give expression to its voice.

The only way Debussy could have accomplished this was by knowing everything about the flute—its strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.  The only way any composer can write successfully for any instrument is by having detailed knowledge about it.

It's no different for writers. In order for us to bring our characters to life, make their voices authentic, we must know their histories, psyches, dialects, and relationships. We must know their families, their friends, favorite colors and foods, what they  dream about, and what they fear. These are the details that give them substance and keep their behavior consistent.

Our characters are our flutes and violins, trumpets and marimbas, sopranos and tenors, with all the quirks and appeal of their counterparts. When we know them inside and out, what glorious ensembles we can make with them.....

2 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Wonderful post

Beautiful analogy.

Comment Bubble Tip

Thanks, Jane! :-)

Thanks, Jane! :-)