1. Bagabon
    Offline

    Bagabon Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3

    Musical scores in a novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bagabon, Jul 30, 2012.

    I am currently working on a fantasy novel, and there is a character in it who is a musician. I was wondering if it would be a bad idea to include a small musical score with the lyrics above it in the novel when the music is being performed or sang? It'd be a simple score with just the melody itself, chords below.
    I am a musician myself and have written melodies for the book, and I know most of the readers wouldn't take the time to actually play the melodies to hear what they sounded like, but I guess I wrote these specific melodies to go with the songs in the book and would like it to be possible for them to be heard if the reader really desired. Would this be odd?
    I also considered having a section of the book where the character shows her sheet music to another, and it could be shown there rather than during the scene in which she plays the music... Any thoughts? Has this been done before?
     
  2. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I think this sounds awesome - would love to see a book like that and it sounds pretty unique. However, as with everything, I think - assuming a publisher takes your novel - it's up to the publisher whether the scores would be included. They have the final say, not you, I'm afraid, and they might, they might not. If they decide not to, then you'll have to be brave enough to turn down offers until you find a publisher who would allow you to print the scores with the book :)
     
  3. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    I would gather all music into an appendix, myself.
     
  4. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Yeah, I'd put them in an appendix myself. A lot of readers don't read music, for one thing, and others (like myself) would sit there trying to hum it or sing it, thus distracting from the novel. Basically, you need to decide if you're a writer or a musician in this story. Don't try to be both.
     
  5. Bagabon
    Offline

    Bagabon Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3
    Okay I agree. If I was reading a book and a musical score was in it, I'd end up humming it and then distract myself from the novel. Which is obviously the opposite effect of what I want, which was to immerse them into the world with the actual music scores. I think an appendix would work perfectly, thanks for all the advice.
     
  6. nephlm
    Offline

    nephlm Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    So the truth is I would skip right over that. It's been 25 years since I tried to read music. I'm basically illiterate to that form of communication. If there was something plot or character essential in those scores I would completely miss it and if there isn't something essential I have to wonder why it's being included.

    On the other hand Boiled in Lead released a CD with songs from Gypsy, a book by Steven Brust, which I enjoy a lot and is part of my music rotation.
     
  7. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I like this idea, and I've seen it done before. I even did it myself for the first draft of my novel - my MC is a folksinger, and I wrote songs for him to sing, and put the melodies, chords, and lyrics right there among the text. It's probably a better idea to include them in an appendix, though. I hadn't thought anybody would have trouble with it - just about everyone I know is a musician and can read music, so I was treating it as just a novel with illustrations by the author. But in my case, the illustrations are musical, not pictorial.
     
  8. Bagabon
    Offline

    Bagabon Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3
    I had the same thought process as you, minstrel. I actually love the way music scores look, even before I could read music. So I wanted it not only as a way for the reader to know what the melody sounded like(other than my description), but also for the imagery of it. I didn't think about the fact that people could be put off by not being able to read it, or would try humming it and losing track of the story. It does seem best for it to be in the appendix, but I would love seeing it on the pages of the novel.
     
  9. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    I'm definitely not an expert with ebooks, but perhaps it's possible to include the melody with those. Like, click the button and hear the song. That way it would be up to the reader, rather than an 'intrusion'. Like I say, I know little to nothing about how ebooks work, but...
     
  10. Bagabon
    Offline

    Bagabon Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3
    Hmm I don't know much about ebooks either. I prefer holding an actual book, but you have a point. I'm sure that could be possible, I had an ebook app on my phone that would play soothing music while you read. That actually makes me think that if it was an audio book, it could have the melody sung in it.

    However now I am worried I'd be ruining the immersion of the book with the score being there. I wrote a description of a melody from the MC pov, which I was quite proud of. I have a feeling it'd take away from it. Ah, appendix would be best, I think. Or an excerpt where a character asks to see the sheet-music possibly....?
     
  11. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Yeah, the important thing has to remain the story itself. I only mentioned the ebook thing because I've seen discussions of interactive stuff with them, and wanted to bring up another possibility (for consideration only) ;)
     
  12. Bagabon
    Offline

    Bagabon Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    3
    Haha yep I agree. You've been very helpful though, the story itself is definitely what is most important to me.
     
  13. marktx
    Offline

    marktx Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    202
    Likes Received:
    8
    I think the real challenge would be to convey the effects that the music is having on the characters as it plays. The score itself is likely to throw us non-musicians completely off, and a straight recitation of the lyrics is not likely to fully capture the spirit of the underlying music, since clearly the music itself is an essential part of what the song is doing.

    Capturing the sense of the emotional impact of the music on the listener is probably the most effective way to get the music across in novel form, but this is no small task.
     
  14. Ambition101
    Offline

    Ambition101 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2012
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I think in theory it might affect the flow of your story. In reality, I think that people who are not interested in the music can simply skip it and continue with the story. For those who are interested, they will be in for an immersive treat. If you can make a recording of it (and even put sound effects like birds tweeting in the background or forest sounds if it's being performed outside) where readers can hear it with a click or a button press (this is possible in real books, too) then it could help to build atmosphere and character and artistically elevate your novel.
     
  15. Quinn T. Senchel
    Offline

    Quinn T. Senchel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2012
    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    NS, Canada
    I would honestly enjoy if the music was added to the story. I love the way it would look on a page, but apparently from the comments here, most wouldn't. I guess placing it in the appendix would work. I always wanted to be able to know the melody of songs when authors add lyrics to a novel so for me it would enhance the book. I could thoroughly picture the scene in my head. Obviously showing the effect the music has on characters within a book would be effective too, but I want to know the melody. It's no more distracting than when authors such as Dan Brown add riddles and codes.
     
  16. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    When you submit a manuscript for fiction, you do not include illustrations of any kind. Therefore musical scores, which don't render in manuscript text, would not be part of the submission. You'd face a hard sell getting the publisher to include it.
     

Share This Page