literature

Musical Talents

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Musical Talents



What is wrong with being able to play the piano, drums, guitar, viola, cello, flute, ad infinitum, or singing?  If this was considered "unrealistic" there would be no such thing as music at all in the real world.  Is age an issue?  Look up music prodigies and you'll be surprised seeing two to four year olds holding concerts from playing an instrument or singing!  Cleopatra Stratan won an MTV award at the age of three!

Are the numbers of instruments a problem?  I know a guy in his thirties who travels and every year he comes back with a different instrument and seems to know how to play them well.  It doesn't mean he's "mastered" them all (he say's he's been traveling since he was in his early twenties), but he definitely knows what he's doing.  And gods forbid that a character can play four or five instruments and can sing!

Or maybe that it could be the possibility of fame.  Look at Justin Bieber or Colbie Caillat.  All they did was post videos online and they became famous—it's so easy now!  If the universe doesn't have computers, they could be traveling musicians and see if anyone hires.  If being famous is the main plot of a story though, then it's the story, it shouldn't be complained about.  If you don't like it just because the characters are famous, then you should really just dub it as "not your kind of story" and move on.

Oh, but what about those great singers that just seem to woo their love interest?  I would love for someone to write and perform a love song for me—in private of course.  What I see, mostly in songfics where the character sings a random song a writer has on their music player, that's supposed to "woo" their interest—I can understand that complaint.  The writer isn't the original lyricist, so of course there's going to be some negative feelings toward the story.  However if the "character" wrote the song him or herself, and he or she is serenading to their interest, I don't see the harm.  If he or she likes the singing and understand that he or she is confessing, well, that's part of the story.  If the interest doesn't like the singing, that can be part of the story also.  

In Tales from Earthsea, Therru is in a field singing to herself about loneliness, and Arren, who overhears, is touched to tears of the song because the lyrics reached his heart.  He was frozen in fear of death and it made him lonely in the dark place of his heart.  He wasn't "wooed" but it's the same thing that's been complained about in other stories (published online anyway).

Overall, if a song plays a part in your story, your safest bet is to write it yourself, even if you're not very good, rather than taking a song you have on your computer.  All you really need is three or four verses.  It doesn't have to rhyme, and it doesn't even need a set of syllables—if you can sing it (in private if you're that self-conscious), then it's fine.  Still, read all the poetry and study songs as often as you can, because if you're going to portray your character as a great poet or something or rather, then it better be above average work.

Songfics follow a different rule.  The above still applies if you're portraying a character writing lyrics, but songfics are different.  Songfics are stories where at certain parts, whether it be after every other paragraphs, or very sparingly, a verse of lyrics, or a passage of a poem is posted which usually goes along with the story, but it's only in the narration.  For example, in one of my fan fictions "Crushing from a Height", the story is about Georgia who has an obsession with 60s-80s (usually English or American) rock, and during her school days, some verses from some songs pop into her head.  That can be considered a Songfic also, but usually, the song(s) chosen and the characters don't have a connection—they just help narrate more emotions through lyricism.  With songfics, as long as you openly state that the song is by so and so in which song either in author notes or throughout the story, it's fine.  

Songfics are here for a reason, but don't confuse songfics with stories where songs actually play a part in the story (in which the writer should write their own lyrics for).  To be honest, it burns me up when I read a story that isn't a songfic, and I read that a character "wrote" this song, and it happens to be one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands.  Even with the disclaimer stating that they don't own the song blah, blah, blah, it still feels like stealing to me.  
If you haven't, please read my Mary-Sue: Who is She? Series first.

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Griffonmender's avatar
Honestly, you kind of need considerable musical talent for certain characters, like sirens, idol singer magical girls, Disney-style fairytale princesses, and even just run of the mill pop stars and such.
Granted, it's kind of dumb to claim Sue-ishness based on musical prowess alone, but it's incredibly stupid when applied to characters like these, especially the ones that are magic and/or supernatural. ^^;