Thursday, August 16, 2012

Practice writing: Sing an art song

In a recent piece by Verlyn Klinkenborg in The New York Times called, Where Do Sentences Come From?, the author suggests that to find to origin of the sentence (in other words, to learn to write) one should memorize poetry or prose. "A rhythmic kind of writing works best, something that sounds almost spoken," says Klinkenborg (a name which also has a nice ring and rhythm).

Wait a minute. What about something sung? Writer Abroad spent her childhood at choir rehearsals and voice lessons. She sang hundreds of art songs (literature set to music). Then she majored in vocal performance in college, sang in a few operas, and became…a writer?

Maybe it wasn’t such a jump after all. Maybe all the choir rehearsals, all the voice lessons, the art songs, the operas, maybe they didn’t go to waste. Maybe instead of going to writing conferences and grammar courses, writers should be learning to sing. Maybe all of this also explains Writer Abroad’s strange writing habits: sometimes in the middle of a writing session, she’ll sing a song or two before going back to the page. Or maybe she's just insane.

But words that are sung are powerful. The poetry set to music that Writer Abroad learned (even the poetry in French, German, and Italian), is always there in the back of her mind. And even though Writer Abroad can forget a sentence the minute after she reads it, she never forgets the thousands of sentences she has sung.

Interested in a little non-conventional writing practice of your own? Sing! This art song book was Writer Abroad’s first. It’s filled with hundreds of sentences set to music and even comes with a CD to accompany your sentence singing. She highly recommends it. In fact, she’s going to get out her dog-eared version and sing her very first solo: Long, Long Ago.


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