Classical Music Stories Tutorial: What to Do When the Music Changes


On this blog you’ll often find Classical Music Stories, a series that connects music to your favorite books and characters through storytelling. Of course, the purpose of the series isn’t to force one particular way of hearing the music, but instead to spark ideas on how to hear your own stories in music.

But how do you do that?

The starting point is to imagine that the music is a movie score and to ask yourself who the characters would be and what they would be doing as you listen. You can either imagine your stories based on those that already exist (which is what Classical Music Stories is all about), or create your own unique stories! (Coincidentally, music can be great writing inspiration.)

More specifically, though, when the music suddenly changes (whether a new instrument comes in, the emotion of the music changes, or something else altogether), there are different ways to imagine how your story is changing:

1) Two different characters

For example, happy and carefree music that all of a sudden sounds threatening and brooding could take you from the mind of a princess and into the mind of an evil queen. Music that sounds condescending followed by music that sounds terrified could be a switch from Mrs. Reed to Jane Eyre.

2) New location

You might have the same character on your virtual TV screen, but now they’ve been zapped into a desert wasteland instead of sitting in a crowded mall, or there’s a flashback to a scuba trip they took as a child.

3) Inner conflict

When music goes back and forth between two styles it could suggest a character trying to make a decision. Should I keep this book on my TBR or remove it???

4) Insanity

Two very different musical ideas happening one after the other could be the inner, troubled workings of an insane mind.

There are plenty of other ways you might hear the contrasts in music, though! Have an idea? Tell us about it in the comments below!

For more ideas about musical storytelling, check out:

The Weirdness of Time in Classical Music (And Books, Too)

Different Perspectives in Books…and Music!

Hyperbole in Literature…and Classical Music!

Suspense in Classical Music (and Books!)

Rhetorical Questions: Classical Music Style

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