Piano Interpretation: Background Accompaniment, Week #1
June is a particularly important month here at Write Nonfiction in November. It marks the halfway point of our 10-month training program, “I Know I Can” Write Nonfiction in November. Since January 2, 2013, Nina Amir and I have provided 63 writing prompts to nonfiction writers. We do not know if anyone has actually attempted these prompts, but we have enjoyed providing them. In the month of June, we will discuss the theme of piano interpretation by asking you to express emotions about 12 different songs. We will also discuss a related concept in writing: evoking emotion in nonfiction writing. Today, your job is to express emotions about Barry Manilow’s song, Can’t Smile Without You.
Creative Idea Gal’s Thoughts
June is a particularly sentimental month for most people, as it is the month most known for weddings and graduations. One of the things that makes weddings and graduations sentimental is music. I chose to focus on piano for this month because it is the most malleable instrument that I could think of.
The unplugged piano produces a raw sound that is clean and serves as the ideal accompaniment in many diverse scenarios. For example, it is used to play formal, serene music at places of worship and is the principal instrument used in school plays and at theater auditions. It is the perfect instrument to try to deconstruct and interpret. (Plugged pianos such as keyboards and synthesizers produce far different sounds than its more humble counterparts. For the purposes of this month’s prompts, we will focus on unplugged pianos only.)
Creative Idea Gal’s Emotion
The piano sounds in songs convey different moods. It is up to you to decide which emotions you feel when listening to Barry Manilow’s song, Can’t Smile Without You. Your perspectives and your distinct answer are correct. What counts the most is how you choose to express the emotions you feel.
My emotion for today’s song is “pleasant.” The piano in this song is soft and melodic. The singing voice is nice. The singer is a G-rated personality who does a great job of smiling all the time and making us all feel good about ourselves. The piano is powerful enough to bend with any song. In this case, it bends with the personality of the singer. It is like a simple chicken and rice dish – – pleasant.
Tips on How to Evoke Emotion in Nonfiction Writing
Throughout the month of June, I’ll be offering nonfiction writers 12 useful tips on how to evoke emotion in nonfiction writing. Internet research will tell you that emotions in writing belong exclusively to fiction writers who want to convey believable characters with exciting plots. I say blah to that. Nonfiction writing can and should evoke emotion in the reader.
- Tip #1 – Choose Your Topic Carefully
If there is one thing I’d say that is most annoying about Twitter is peoples’ obsession with telling the world about their need for coffee. Frankly, no one gives a darn. The same annoyance crops up in nonfiction regularly – – same doggone topics, same boring slants on topics. I challenge you to step away from the over-used topics and choose different ones. There are hundreds of variations of every topic. Try not to focus on what others have written. Be different. Be opinionated. Be yourself.
“When nonfiction spotlights the human element of what could have been just a factual account, emotion comes into play. When a writer hammers out creative nonfiction, readers can relate to whatever the situation might be.” ” – Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp
“The debate the nonfiction writer has with herself revolves around the question, “Is that really what I think? Ultimately, you choose a stance and support it—open to the possibility your outlook may shift and almost inevitability your emotions will change by the time you publish and promote.” – Stefanie Flaxman for Revision Fairy
Writing Prompt 064
Prompt: Express emotions about Barry Manilow’s song, Can’t Smile Without You.
- Step 1: Listening to Barry Manilow’s song, Can’t Smile Without You, is good. Watching the video and seeing Barry play the piano while singing is even better.
- Step 2: Watch the video carefully but challenge yourself to have an emotion the first time you watch the video. The first perspective is usually the most genuine.
- Step 3: Express your emotions about this song. It doesn’t matter whether you like the song or not. Remember, this is an exercise in emotions in writing!
Please be sure to leave comments about this writing prompt. We want to hear from you!
About the Author
Amanda M. Socci, J.D., is a freelance writer with 14 years of experience writing professionally. Socci currently cuts her blogging chops on her personal portfolio blog, the Creative Idea Gal blog, and on an online news site, Mount Vernon Patch. Inspired by Nina Amir’s Write Nonfiction in November writing challenge, she created a unique 10-month training program for Writenonfictionnow.com and Writenonfictioninnovember.com blog visitors.
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