Being a writer is a life of music that happens only in your head. You hear voices constantly. They pulse rhythmically with insights and ideas that have to be written down and remembered. Otherwise the music turns clashing-cymbals dark and depressing. Monday I wrote a deeply personal thank you to the Methodist minister who saved my life when I was a boy. I posted a YouTube music video by the acapella group Pentatonix with that essay in a vain attempt to give you an idea of the music in my head when I composed that very difficult piece to give myself a measure of peace.
I realize that I am not writing poetry here. Poetry can so easily slip into melody and music because of rhythm and meter and rhyme. And yet, words to me are always about singing, about performing, about doing tricks with metaphor and meaning, rhythm, convoluted sentence structure, and other sneaky things that snake-oil salesman do to get you to think what you are hearing is precisely what you needed to hear. The Sonata of Silence… did you notice the alliteration of the silvery letter “S” in that title? The beat of the syllables? Da-daah-da a da-da? The way a mere suggestion of music can bring symphonic sounds to your ear of imagination as you read? The way a simple metaphor, writing is music, can be wrapped into an essay like a single refrain in a symphonic piece?
A sonata is a musical exercise in three or four movements that is basically instrumental in nature. You may have noticed that the movements are loosely defined here by the accompanying pictures, of which there are three. And it is silent only in the way that the instruments I am using themselves make no noise in the physical world. The only sounds as I type these words are the hum of an old air conditioner and the whirr of my electric fan. Yet my mind is filled with crescendos of violins and cellos, bold brass, and soft woodwinds. The voice saying these words aloud only in my head is me. Not the me you hear when I talk or the me I can hear on recordings of my own voice, but rather the me that I always hear from the inside. And the voice is not so much “saying” as “singing”.
Writing makes music. The writer can hear it. The reader can too. And whether I croon it to make you cry, or trill it to make you laugh, I am playing the instrument. And so, the final notes of the sonata are these. Be happy. Be well. And listen for the music.