Thursday, October 29, 2015

Words and Music

image courtesy Pixabay
"Words are instruments of music: an ignorant man uses them for jargon; but when a master touches them they have unexpected life and soul. Some words sound out like drums; some breathe memories sweet as flutes; some call like a clarionet; some show a charge like trumpets; some are sweet as children's talk; others rich as a mother's answering back." --Anonymous

I found this quote in an anthology collection copyrighted before I was born. So old in fact, the date is written in Roman numerals: MCMXLVII. Does anyone read Roman numerals anymore?

Anyway, the quote was anonymous back then--still so today since I couldn't find any attribution, even after googling the phrases. But the word picture is as timely now as it was then.

Does the metaphor 'ring' true for you?

Hope your words are making great music!  Enjoy the last days of October...


  1. What a quote! Literary writers are especially good at this. I make sure the reading rhythm of my sentences is good, however I'm not as good at painting word pictures as I'd like to be. (There's always more to learn and improve upon.)

  2. Cathy, boiled down I think the quote means putting heart in our words. That shows up in different ways (like different musical instruments) for different writers. Word pictures are one way, but sentence rhythm is an important way, too! Yes, we can always learn and improve, but at the same time we need to celebrate our strengths. Wishing you the best with your books, I know you made finalist in one competition recently :-)

  3. It makes me think of how the orchestra is made of so many different instruments. Maybe that's why there's so much emphasis on making our characters "sound different" from one another. Otherwise, we'd have an orchestra with only trumpets or violins or drums. Boring.

  4. Great point, Peggy :-) A variety of parts--characters or instruments--must work together to make a good story (or song). Thanks--appreciate your thoughts!