Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Authors Writing Lyrics

Now before authors all over the place start thinking this is a "Please stop writing song lyrics," just wait...

I conducted an experiment today on one of my most terrific friends. He also happens to be a published author. I chose him for several reasons. One, he is a friend, two he is a writer, and three he has written lyrics into his books and mastered what I, the reader, feels how it should be done.

I asked him to read a set of lyrics I wrote (not good or perfect but this was an experiment, remember). I asked him "I want you to read short lyrics. 1st tell me how you hear it (ie) indie, hip hop, country, rap, whatever."

I want to cry...I do
 I want to cry... yes I do
cause if I cry then I'll be free,
 If I cry then I can fly
The pains all hold up inside
Just need to cry

His response was, "I hear mournful piano and strings, like haunting alternative. Evanescence like."

I then sang it to him. He then responded, "Yours is a little bluesy with more emphasis on the fly/free than the cry part... I can hear it now."

Sometimes writers created tales about rockstars (musicians). I've read a ton! No, I'm not singling anyone out. In the time I've read I have noticed more often then not, I have no idea what I'm supposed to feel while reading lyrics in books.

After my friend heard it and said he could hear it my way, he then said "Consider the source, I'm moody." That was him. Now take someone who isn't, they would hear those lyrics totally different.

I am aware, sometimes, an author wants their reader to read the lyrics and hear it in their head how it is they want. Other times the author wants you to hear it their way. 

One time I read a book and the author wrote lyrics and I heard that as a happy love song to an unrequited love. Four chapters later I find out the character is suicidal and it's a good bye song and he's horribly heartbroken. I sat there for a good two minutes wondering where I went wrong. I went back to the page of the song, then back further to see if I missed the emotion. Alas, I had not. It left me confused. 

Why not write... "With a melancholy expression he began to play a tune so sad tears welled in my eyes before the first words were sung..." I don't understand. If it's so vital to the story why wouldn't an author emphasize how we, the reader, are supposed to interpret it?

My experiment shows that lyrics are just words, the melody, the tune, the music is what gives it the emotion.  Lyrics are poems awaiting melody.

Take Edgar Allan Poe's A Dream Within A Dream...

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Now we know what type of person he was. But if these were lyrics to a song the emotion would be heard as it was sung. 

As writers it is VITAL to be the melody, set the scene and tell us how you want us to feel if it is expected of us to understand!


No comments:

Post a Comment