Piano-forte, soft-loud


Years ago when I took piano lessons I learned the original name for the instrument, piano-forte or soft-loud. It was given that name because of its dynamic range. Unlike the harpsichord, notes could be played louder or softer by striking the keys harder or softer. This feature gave the piano versatility. A song could whisper one moment and scream the next. A talented pianist could use the full range of the instrument to reach his listeners. 


Recently I was considering how writers portray emotions in our writing and the piano-forte came to mind. Do emotions have sound? What emotions are loud? What emotions are soft?


The first one that came to mind was anger. ANGER seemed like a loud emotion. Yelling, screaming, stomping, slamming. But then I thought of the icy cold anger when two people stop talking to each other, the anger that seethes beneath the surface, deadly quiet. It seemed that anger was not to be pigeon-holed as loud after all.


What of the other emotions? I realized they all had loud and quiet faces. Sadness ranged from loud wails through choked sobs to silent tears. Happiness held peals of laughter and screams of delight as well as soft glows and quiet smiles. People expressed fear in shrieking screams or wordless stares of frozen terror.


All the emotions hold a full range of dynamics, soft-loud, piano-forte. As writers we must keep this in mind. We must learn, as I had with the piano, when to play loud and when to play soft so that readers can hear the music of our words.     


About roxanne werner

Mild mannered mom by day, free time lost in my imagination. My journey started with Santa. Every year I raced to the Christmas tree and searched until I found the special present, the heavy one, signed 'love Santa'--a book. I would curl up and start reading, often not coming up for air until the story was done. As an adult I still look for the one special present under my tree, signed from Santa. It's the heavy one I open first--a new book, a new world to explore. I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey but reading let me travel through space and time. I visited the future with H.G. Wells, Middle Earth with J.R.R.Tolkien. I had the best of companions, characters who made me laugh, cry, and catch my breath. My sixth grade teacher opened up another world for me. Each week we were assigned to write a story. I had made up stories in my head before, but never attempted to write them down. It was the best homework I ever had. I couldn't wait to put down my ideas and create characters of my own. I was hooked on writing. Time passed and though I remained an avid reader, writing was put aside. I had a family to raise and a full time job. Now that my son is going to be sixteen, I'm getting ready to retire my 'mom hat.' Two years ago I decided to pursue writing as more than a hobby. I packed up my imagination, a pen, my PC, mustered up my courage, and began a new journey. It's been filled with ups and downs, but I won't ever go back. Like Frodo, I've learned there's a big wide world out there. Once you take one step out of your door, you are swept up and taken for an adventure. It's scary and wonderful. I've made great friends and learned so much. If I'm brave and don't give up, one day a child will pick up a heavy present under their tree and open it to find one of my stories.
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