Tag Archives: music

Poetry: Making Music with Words

Most writers are primarily concerned with the meaning of the words they choose. Is the language precise and accurate? Do the words provide the best connotation for what the writer is trying to communicate? Does the language show, rather than tell?

But poets take language a step further and push it into the realm of music. Poets care about meaning, precision, and accuracy as well as connotation and imagery. But they also care about how words sound, because musicality is a fundamental feature of poetry.

Poets use various elements of music to compose a poem. But because the written word is read and not heard, some elements of music aren’t available, like pitch and timbre.

Spoken word and performance (or slam) poetry are exceptions, because these works are designed to be heard and can incorporate musical elements that aren’t available to authors who write to be read. But most poets rely on a variety of literary devices and techniques to bring music to their work. Foremost among these are meter, sound, rhyme, repetition, and structure.

Meter (Rhythm)

In poetry, meter is a syllabic pattern, which is determined by stressed and unstressed syllables. We’ll use bold to denote stressed syllables in the first line of “What Kind of Times Are These” by Adrienne Rich:

There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill

Let’s see what happens when we strip away the language, so we can see the raw meter of the line:

da-da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-da DUM DUM da-DUM

As you can see, the meter gives the poem rhythm, an underlying drumbeat. This demonstration shows why it’s important to review the syllables in the lines of your poetry to check the meter.

Sound (Melody)

A song’s melody is determined by the sequence and length of notes played or sung by musicians. In poetry, melody is driven by the vowel and consonant sounds within the words of the poem. Consider this simple tune: la de-da, la de-da, la-la-la. 

Now compare it to this: doo-da, doo-da, doo-de-da.

We don’t know the exact notes or melody just from reading these sounds, but there is an implied tune when we read them aloud. We can bring a little rhythm to the sounds as well by placing stress on select syllables:

LA de-da, LA de-da, LA-LA-LA. 

DOO-da, DOO-da, DOO-de-DA.

So how do we put it all together? By choosing words that match the melody and meter that we’re aiming for:

LA de-da, LA de-da, LA-LA-LA. 
On the dock, six o’clock, stomp on rock

DOO-da, DOO-da, DOO-de-DA.
Stooping, drooping, boorish king

You’ll notice that in addition to rhythm and meter, we introduced some rhymes.


The most common rhymes are perfect end rhymes–words that appear at the end of lines in poetry and that rhyme perfectly. Here’s an example from Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot
Nothing is going to get better, it’s not.

The words lot and not rhyme perfectly and are placed at the end of the first two lines, respectively. The placement of rhyme in a poem, coupled with its meter, can give the lines a sing-song quality. We can use different meters, sounds, and rhyme placements to pull different musical qualities into our poetry. Here’s an excerpt from “Spelling” by Margaret Atwood, which shows internal rhymes:

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite

Try reading these lines aloud to hear the inherent music contained within. Notice that the lines do not use a metrical pattern, but the layered internal rhymes give it rhythm:

  • away and breaks
  • hot and rock
  • bones, open, and flows
  • The word point appears three times in these five lines, but the repetition of this word is barely noticeable.

It’s worth noting that some poems don’t rhyme at all. Rhyme is important in poetry, but it’s actually a subset of a broader and even more important poetic device that is essential in both poetry and music: repetition. After all, rhyme is just repetition of sounds.


Repetition is the technique that really sums up how we make music out of words in poetry. All of the techniques mentioned above ultimately use repetition:

  • We create a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables — and a pattern is really just repetition.
  • We choose words and arrange them in such a way that they create a pseudo melody, which is achieved primarily by patterning (or repeating) certain sounds.
  • And we use rhyme — maybe end rhymes that ring like cymbals or internal rhymes that jingle like a tambourine. Rhymes are, by nature, repetition.

Layering the repetitions of these elements creates greater musical dynamics in a poem.

As you can see, a poem’s musicality really comes from the repetition of various elements within the lines and stanzas. And there are more elements that we can repeat. Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in close proximity: prickly pears. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in close proximity: hat rack.

Some poems even use repetition in their very structure.


A poem’s music also comes from its structure — the length of lines and stanzas, placement of line and stanza breaks, punctuation, and spacing. All of these elements contribute to the poem’s structural sounds and therefore contribute to its musicality.

In music, a rest is an interval of silence. In poetry, these intervals are indicated by line breaks, stanza breaks, punctuation, and spacing. Rests are similar to the concept of white space in art.

For example, punctuation provides indicators for pausing (or resting) with commas and periods or inflections for questions and exclamations.

Do You Make Music with Poetry?

Plenty of excellent works of poetry aren’t especially musical. But musicality is an important aspect of poetry.

How do you infuse your poetry with music?

By Melissa Donovan
Source: writingforward.com

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Google to Sell Audiobooks, Teases 50% Off Your First Purchase in Leaked Banner

Back in November I brought you the news that Google was looking at selling audiobooks in Google Play, and now it appears the launch is imminent.

9to5Google reports that a last night a banner for the new audiobook section of Google Play went live in the Play Store. The banner linked to the audiobook section of the store. That section isn’t live yet as I right this on Saturday, but clearly that is going to change fairly soon.

Google to Sell Audiobooks, Teases 50% Off Your First Purchase in Leaked Banner Audiobook Google Books Google Play

The Play Store does have a few audiobooks in its Music section, but 9to5Google says the implementation has always felt a little sloppy. And in any case, those audiobooks aren’t listed in their own category. That makes them so hard to find that they might as well not exist.

Google Play via 9to5Google

Source: the-digital-reader.com

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5 Reasons Goodreads is a Book Marketing Staple

Goodreads has mixed reviews at best when I chat book marketing strategies with authors at conferences, but I really want 2018 to be about maximizing on YOU, on using what makes you unique to sell more books, and Goodreads is a great platform for achieving that goal.

And while Goodreads has gotten a bad rap for being where books go to get slaughtered by reviews, that’s honestly not fair.

Good books and engaged authors get great reviews on Goodreads. See how that works?

So it’s time to buck up and start using Goodreads to your advantage!

Be an engaged author on Goodreads. I promise you, a good book paired with genuine engagement on…


And here are 5 tips to get you motivated:

It’s Not Typical Social Media

Social media is generally one of the biggest book marketing hurdles for authors that I talk to.

They either don’t have time to juggle all the platforms they signed up for, or they’re completely confused about where to start and how to keep it going.

So I suggest they focus on Goodreads.

I never recommend being on social media just to check it off your list.

If you’re not good at it, or you don’t put in the time but send people there via your website or email marketing, you’re risking doing more harm than good.

Goodreads is for readers and authors, so if you’re suffering from an aversion to social media, let Goodreads be where you focus your attention.

High Quality, High Volume Users

Another great benefit is the volume of high quality, targeted users.

Goodreads has 65 million members and counting, and guess what? They all love books!

Honestly, as authors, we couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.

Maybe your ad dollars and content on other social sites may be getting lost in the shuffle. Reach avid readers on Goodreads, guaranteed.

Groups That Get Real Engagement

Targeted reader groups are gold when it comes to book marketing and engagement,.

Talk about a captivated audience!

But here’s a dose of reality. I’ve dabbled in groups on other social sites, both personally and for my authors, and they are tough going.

Starting from scratch is never easy, and sometimes it’s really not necessary.

The reader groups on Goodreads are established, active, and users trust them. Use this to your advantage.

You Can Find the Right Readers

An extension of your group activity should be a focus on your genre as well.

And your goal shouldn’t be to sell your book but to prove you’re also a fan of your own genres (you are right?), this kind of book marketing is more about networking, and it will take you far, I assure you.

If you become “one of the diehards” in your genre groups on Goodreads you can almost guarantee your fellow groupies will support you by checking out your next release.

Participate in a genuine way. You will be genuinely rewarded.

It Can Be a Great Alternative to a Website

If you don’t have a website, or you don’t have one that you can update easily or frequently, Goodreads can be a great alternative.

You have a great section for a bio, you can create and announce events, run giveaways, host author Q&As.

You can even host your blog on Goodreads. And to make “blog” seem less scary, just think if it as regular fan and follower updates on your work, your writing schedule, giveaway promotions and release announcements. See? Fun stuff!

The Takeaway

Goodreads can be daunting, but it’s gotten a bad rap with authors and that really needs to stop.  If you need help with this magnificent tool or any other book marketing tool, contact me!

Besides, if you wanted everything to be easy you wouldn’t have decided to become a published author in the first place – because this book marketing stuff isn’t for the faint of heart – but the more you jump in feet first with these strategies, the easier they become to execute.

If you’re an author already on the Goodreads train, I’d love to hear how you’ve incorporated it into your book marketing in ways you’ve really benefit from!

Source: amarketingexpert.com

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Can You Include Song Lyrics in Your Book?

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By Jason Boog on October 30, 2013 3:42 PM
Originally on GalleyCat!

recordplayerHave you ever quoted song lyrics in your book? Music can set the mood, evoke a certain setting or channel a particular emotion.

However, writers need to be aware of copyright issues surrounding music in books. We caught up withCopyright Clearance Center‘s author and creator relations director Christopher Kenneally, discovering the key questions authors should ask before including a song. Kenneally explained:

Consider not quoting the song. Lyrics, like all creative expression, are copyrighted. Copyright gives the author or creator the exclusive right to republication of the work. Any writer who wishes to quote lyrics, or for that matter, passages from another’s book, must obtain permission first. It’s probably worth asking how necessary or vital such quotation is to any particular creative work.

Kenneally added:

If it’s used to set a mood or establish a period, it’s easy enough to refer to song titles, which, under U.S. law, are not copyrighted. However, some novelists and short story writers – Ann Beattie is perhaps the most famous example – find it essential to quote from song lyrics as a way of establishing credible characters or settings.

We posed the same question about self-published books, and received this answer:

Just because you’ve made yourself the publisher, doesn’t mean you have the right to make up your own copyright law. Self-publishing has, in many respects, freed authors to express themselves as they wish. But it has also added greatly to their responsibilities. Today, self-published authors must not only write, but also market, sell and obtain rights permissions.

Finally, Kenneally explained the steps authors need to take to get permission to use song lyrics:

For any permission request, the first step is to identify the copyright holder. This is not as easy as it sounds. Look for the copyright symbol on the CD sleeve and the name of the publisher. However, in an increasingly digital world where downloads are more common, this sort of “metadata” is not always immediately available.

If you contact the publisher, don’t expect a fast reply. He or she will usually need to contact several different rightsholders who may be on tour or (as it happens in rock) have recently climbed the stairway to heaven. Do expect that for all but the most obscure artist, the reuse fees may be significant. If you run into a roadblock, there are organizations that will provide assistance. Such “content management organizations” include ASCAPBMI, as well asCopyright Clearance Center.

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