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How to describe the sound of music genres?:
I'm writing a story in which a timetraveler arrives in the present from the '40s and hears someone playing some hip hop, or Gnarls Barkley stuff, and tries to describe it. How would he describe it? He should do so either neutrally or favorably, but not negatively.
vigilantly taxonomishProbably not very precisely. Unless your character has studied music theory, I'd steer clear of jargon, beyond perhaps commonplace words like "beat" or "rhythm". I think you'd be best off describing how the character responds to the music emotionally rather than attempting to describe the sound. How does it make him feel? Oh, and positive slang words in use from around that period include "hep", "choice", "sharp", "sweet", "smooth", "a lulu" and "a gas".
edited 22nd Sep '11 9:50:22 AM by BobbyG
Even something general would work. I've come up with "Something jumpy and loud. Crass, but vibrant." Though I'm not sure it fits.
vigilantly taxonomishSounds OK to me.
What I would do is listen to a lot of 40s music, then put on something modern, and imagine talking to the guy about it. Also, consider the guy's personality. You might want to take a look at the novel _The Five People You Meet In Heaven_, in which a guy born in 1920 dies in 1991. In the chapter where he meets his wife, who had died in the 1960s, and describes what Ruby Pier was like when he died. If you're not interested in the rest of the story, you can just go to the library and read that chapter. (I listened to the audiobook, so I don't know what the page numbers are.)
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