The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
April 10, 2021
Music is often used to set a mood, to express emotion or serves as a backdrop to other activities. When words are added for extra layers of enjoyment, they pull you in, they get your attention, they stroke your emotions and tell a story. When words and music are illustrated, they add a third artistic layer of enjoyment.
Are you a grandparent who loved The Beatles, remembering fondly concerts, awaiting new albums and watching their first television appearance, showcased on “The Ed Sullivan Show?” Lyrics written by John Lennon have been illustrated by Jean Jullien in the picture book “Imagine.” Jullien uses a bird and its journey of peace as the lyrics move the reader from one visual to another. One can imagine a parent reading the book to their child and softly singing the words. Or a grandparent being swept up in memories of their own, singing aloud at the turn of each page.
“In My Life” is another Beatles inspired book, using the words of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney and illustrated beautifully by Genevieve Santos. With these lyrics, Santos highlights for the reader family love, affection and memories held dear, as the daughter grows up and brings back a daughter of her own. Three generations reverberating through the lyrics as again, the music runs through our heads.
“Jungle Night” comes with download instructions of a soundtrack from famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Writer Sandra Boynton tells the story of nighttime and sounds the jungle animals make while settling down to sleep for the night. Used together, both the reading of the book and the music from the download, ”Jungle Night” becomes a gentle bedtime story to be read to children as they prepare for their own sleep. It isn’t a surprise that Boynton combined music and verse in her book. As an American humorist, she is also a songwriter, director, music producer, as well as a children’s book author and illustrator. Combining words, pictures and music, this book becomes second nature to her and you might enjoy looking into her 50 or so other books written for both children and adults.
My last book entry in this review is “Wild Symphony” both written and put to music by the adult fiction writer Dan Brown, who has brought us thought provoking books like “The Da Vinci Code.” He is quoted to say, “Long before I wrote stories, I wrote music.” His parents were musicians and teachers. Brown grew up playing the piano, singing and spending a lot of his time attending various concerts. He has shared, “ Music was a secret sanctuary for me as a child. It calmed me when I felt frustrated, was a trusted friend when I felt lonely, helped me express my joy when I was happy, and, best of all, sparked my creativity and imagination.” One does wonder when authors like Brown write spine tingling mysteries and adventures, where the inspiration comes from ... the depth of their emotions, the curiosity to dig deep into a subject, and their ability to express it to the rest of us. Who knew with Dan Brown it was music?
“Wild Symphony” is not only a combination of storytelling, illustration and orchestra music, very effectively expressed by various animals and their personalities. Brown has also incorporated hidden animals within the music along with clues, puzzles and a coded message to solve. So many layers, so much fun!
Books bring us great stories, with words filling each page. When you add music to those words and illustrate the lyrics, the richness of the reading experience grows. Then the richness of the experience is inflated when the author adds actual music to the mix that you can either download from the internet to play along, or sing it yourself! These books are not just for children. As quoted from Dan Brown, music can spark curiosity and imagination. Growing up, I always listened to music as I did my homework, had music playing while I read copious novels and experienced so many adventures. I do the same today. Music can be set to words by the author or we can do it ourselves. So set the storytelling in your life to music, whether it is your story or the story of others. Be inspired. Imagine. It is your life and your playlist. Turn it on and tune in to the joy of words with music, and music with words!
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.