Friday, April 24, 2009

Guzheng Music--yes, that is me playing

At risk of embarrassing myself, I am sharing some video clips of me playing the guzheng.
I uploaded them to my flickr--the only place I have available, so I have a time limit. Because of this, I filmed 2 parts of a song.

The camera angle is odd. I look down at my hands while playing and never saw them from the side before.
I used a Canon camera which is designed for photos, but the video and sound quality is okay.
(I didn't know where to upload my other option, which captures higher quality sound, but no video.)

I started lessons last September. So, I've not played this instrument for very long. I've had about 20 lessons. This piece is far from perfect, but does give you a sense of the guzheng.
Here is a post from last December which shows some pictures and gives additional info about the guzheng. There is also a photo of the music, which is very different from Western musical notation.

I was unable to upload the videos. Sorry, I need some major tech help here.

You can see them in on my flickr: beginning of song and end of song. Depending on your internet connection, you might need to hit pause, let the movie load and then hit play.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Narrative Arcs

I've been studying narrative arcs.
The goal--to tell the story in the best way for that story.

The plot theory most people are familiar with is Aristotle's. At the most fundamental level, a narrative arc is the arrangement of the events in a story.

Small changes such as the repositioning of a page turn, or switching the position of two sentences can change the meaning of picture book story and alter the narrative arc. "Small" changes have a big influence in a novel's arc too, such as changing the order of scenes, or altering a beginning or ending of a chapter.

Narrative arcs are created by a variety of techniques, including the order of events, how and where and if a climax occurs, point of view, setting, tone, repetition, and layering of thematic elements. All of these choices and more contribute to the narrative arc. The characters and their arcs can follow the same trajectory as the narrative arc, but sometimes follow a different pattern.

Narrativity theory, or the way the writer writes the story and the way the reader reads, should be considered when revising.

A few questions to consider.
Will the story be linear or non-linear?
How many characters tell the story? One, two, ten? Or is a storyteller narrator best?
Is an experimental form better than a traditional arc?
Can more than one arc be layered in the story?
What should be included and just as important, what should be left out?

The arc creates the rhythm of the story. In many stories this will show as the increase and decrease of tension. In other stories, the story carries the reader along at a constant rate and in others there is a steady increase of tension. Tensionless stories also exist.

Part of what I've been studying are atypical narrative arcs in picture books, and how these books engage the reader, even when some "essential" elements are removed. I'll give a 15 minute presentation on ways to craft a spine by using atypical narrative arcs at residency next July at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

I started thinking about this last residency during workshop when Uma Krishnaswami mentioned a few ways to create narrative arcs. This is especially interesting with picture books, because there are so many available narrative approaches that are effective with picture book narration. It apears most of the theory and discussion focuses on other areas of literature. There is much to consider about narratology and literary theory within the picture book genre. From what I've explored so far, picture books seem to revel in the freedom of atypical arcs.