After writing, music is my biggest passion. Or maybe they hold equal positions as my top passions. I pull music into my books often. If I see a novel title relating to music, I look at it to see if it’s something I have to read. I’ll read most genres of books. And I love most genres of music. I have exceptions. I don’t do horror or crime novels and I don’t do rap. I’m iffy about sci fi and I’m not big on R&B. However, a good sci fi with the right subject matter, I’ll try, and I do like some R&B when it’s mixed with another genre or done by the right singer.
My favorite music genres: pop/rock and classical. My favorite novel genres: literary and historical with strong romantic elements.
My son and I went to see David Garrett live last night. I found him on Dancing With The Stars last season and was immediately pulled in. On my next outing, I went out and found the two CDs available in the music store: David Garrett and Rock Symphonies. Even sitting here in my den playing the CDs, the music is so … overwhelmingly beautiful and magnificent that it can make my eyes water. I often can’t work through it. I close my eyes and listen.
So when I heard he was coming close enough and saw that the weather was going to cooperate, I grabbed tickets.
This concert was right up there with Paul McCartney and Elton John. Except for their names, being who they are, it would highly surpass either. It had my eyes moist much of the evening. It was that beautiful. I’ve listened to plenty of classical music. I’ve listened to plenty of pop/rock. There are some amazing artists that capture my attention. But I’m rather a smooth sailor. I’m not overly emotional. Few things can stir me that deeply.
It wasn’t only the music. It was the soul of the artist as connected to his instrument as connected to his audience. It was his original twist of mixing classical music with rock. It was his saying: Hey, classical doesn’t have to mean stuffy. Open your eyes. Look at it again. Look how it relates to music today. LOOK at it, FEEL it. Find the beauty of the classical elegance and let it make your heart pound as rock does. (Not an actual quote, only my interpretation.)
I’ve been a big believer that mixing is almost always better than rigid separation. It’s true with dog breeds, with religions, with cultures; and it’s true with music. It’s also true with novels.
It hit me last night as I was reading the program about why he decided to mix classical and rock that, yes, I agree totally! Mix the old with the new and create … better! Well, not to say that the rock version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is better than the original. It stands quite well enough on its own, but it does draw younger attention. It pulls in an audience it wouldn’t have without the rock element. I loved the 80s rock hit Amadeus for that reason. Maybe I shouldn’t say better. Maybe I should say unique, fresh, exciting. Getting young people into rock music to start looking at classical music is a wonderful thing.
In the program notes, David Garrett does say that playing music isn’t complete until you learn music theory. You can’t make it take off on your own until you do. You have to study your predecessors, know what they did and where the roots of what you’re doing came from. Yes, you can play music without it, but it doesn’t get inside you the same without it.
I feel the same about literature. I’m a big believer in reading the classics, in reading literary fiction along with your favorite genre(s). Literary fiction is to books what classical is to music. It’s the fuller, richer, more detailed, more involved and intricate art. But it doesn’t have to be stuffy. It doesn’t have to be hard to read. Mark Twain isn’t hard to read. Even Anna Karenina isn’t hard to read. Personally, I found A Tale of Two Cities a little hard to read only because 1/3 of the way in and it was still more rambling and description than story. Others adore it. Still… I think writers should study literary fiction for the same reason musicians should know classical music. It’s the theory of it that matters. (Some of us truly like the lengthy complex beauty of it, as well.)
Literary doesn’t have to be stuffy. It doesn’t. Especially when it’s mixed with another genre.
You can have both that full deep richness of intricate story lines and author thoughts and input, and the fun intense romantic scary plot driven genre fiction all wrapped in one. Just stretch the boundaries a bit.
Yes, mixing literary fiction and romance can work (and I have a Goodreads review that says it shouldn’t, but it does!), even if they do seem to be on opposite ends of the novel spectrum. It can work just like mixing classical music and rock, with a violin.
It’s funny: I started using the term literary romance a few years back and recently I’ve seen the terms literary thriller and literary … oops, I forget, but it was another commercial genre mixed with literary. I haven’t read them, so I can’t say how accurate the description is, but I did find it amusing. And heartening.
Maybe it is an uphill battle coloring outside the lines, but hey, it’s working for David Garrett! From the (nearly) packed house last night to the incredible audiences I’ve seen in videos, it’s working quite well.
Check it out for yourself. Here’s David Garrett doing Aerosmith’s Walk This Way or Beethoven’s Fifth:
If this works to your liking and you’d like to see how well literary mixes with romance, give one of my books a try. Maybe start with the now free ebook Finishing Touches and think of it as a Youtube video sample. (It will be free at BN.com, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, and Apple very soon!)
Oh, music and fiction work well mixed, also.
What do you think? Like the mix? Have you read any novel genre mixes you think worked well? How about any music genre mixes?