How To Tell A Story With Words And Music, Part 1

[caption id="attachment_202599" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Ernest Hemingway wasn't a songwriter, but he was a master of economy with language. Photo: Public Domain[/caption] This is the first part of an ongoing series: How To Tell a Story with Words and Music. Over the course of these lessons we will be discussing narrative principles and devices that can make our ‘story-songs’ connect with listeners on a deeper level than ever before. Everyone loves a good story, especially one well told. So let’s get started. The first principle underlying good narrative development in songwriting is Limitation and Economy. We are the Swiss watchmakers of the narrative world. In telling our stories, we must be thorough yet concise. The Greek poet Simonides made his living writing inscriptional verse on graves of the wealthy and powerful. Because his inscriptions had to fit on the stones bought for them, he had to be both creative and exacting. Hemingway’s inspiration was the telegraph, which taught him that every word costs something. For songwriters it's a combination of the lyric, melodic, and harmonic choices we employ within a limited time frame of three-and-a-half minutes, give or take. If done right Limitation naturally leads to Economy -- the maximum development…

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