Monday, June 14, 2010
The Opera singer sang like a bad simile...
There was a guest soloist who was amazing. She's a professional, sings with the National Opera, has traveled the world. She needs to only sing one or two notes for you to know: she's a star.
The thing is, she sang several beautiful songs from movies that my kids knew, and sang them true to the original versions.... until the last few bars. Then, unexplainably, she went into a highly operatic, showy series of notes as if to prove she was deserving of all the great things the program said of her.
The notes by themselves were, well, incredible. The problem was that they totally took us out of the song. All of a sudden I wasn't sucked into the beautiful melody and lulled by the emotion of the lyrics. I was suddenly thinking of those few notes, the ones that, while gorgeous, did not belong.
Earlier that afternoon I'd been talking with my 9 year old daughter about writing tests she was being prepared at school to take. One of the things the teacher has tried to drill into them is to use figurative language in their essays. So, like most young kids, my daughter has learned to sprinkle her writing with similes and metaphors.... which usually don't make sense. Or at the very least are awkward.
We were talking about how in school you have to learn how to do things that later you aren't suppose to do, like liberally use similes. When I told her that in my writing, editors discourage the liberal use of similes, she asked why. I told her that unless a simile was very very good, it takes a reader out of the story. They notice the comparison and stop to think about it instead of staying in the flow of the story.
So when we walked out of the concert, she said to me, "That last song, where the singer did that big thing at the end - that was like a simile, wasn't it? Because it made me think about how she was singing instead of enjoying the song."