One of the most memorable quotes I’ve heard from a child came from his experience listening to classical music. I don’t remember who said it (Google comes up empty-handed), but I’ve never forgotten it.
“A symphony is music with a song waiting to bust out any minute.”
Those words were the child’s response to listening to a symphonic piece. The little listener kept expecting to hear a song, but no sooner did the musicians seem to be closing in on a melody, than the music changed and darted off down another musical path. I suspect that was a little frustrating to the kid; but at least it kept him listening, expectantly.
Being a musician, I can fully appreciate the correctness of his innocent comment.
Classical music is technical; in fact, highly so. Orchestration is a wonderment to those of us who aren’t both talented and trained in the art. The printed lines for a solo instrument, like the clarinet I play, are defined by strict mathematical relationships between frequencies of sound. If the math is not precise, then the sound will not be precise and melodic. That is to say, the sound will not be music, but rather noise.
I consider myself a technical person. As a scientist, I understand the technical rigor and precision which is required for composing and orchestration, but also for scientific and engineering calculations and publications. Indeed, I’ve spent decades writing technical papers, many with a fair amount of mathematical basis. I kept the creative, the musical side, bottled up, because it’s not publishable. Technical publications are, well, technical. They are neither pretty nor tuneful.
But as I mingle vicariously with other technical writers, I find that some of them also have a pent-up desire for creative writing. With a somewhat guilty feeling, they have actually penned very good, non-technical prose. And even a few poems.
Now that I, a scientist, have released my first novel, Middle Waters, hugely imaginative compared to my day-to-day paid technical writing, I feel I have birthed a bastard child.
Oh, but how I love that child.
Now let the song begin…