consonance and dissonance in life and writing

In life, as in music, there are parts that are pleasant and others that are not.

I prefer to live in the light, in the pleasantness that can be found all around. It lends a glow to the day that carries inside the mind and makes everything, even the less than pleasant, easier to bear.

It can appear superficial. It is not. It is a deeply thought reaction to the reality of the world.

There are two words I love, consonance and dissonance. The lovely S sounds like white noise, at once calming and a little intrusive, are evocative. Just the sound of S can make me think of a snake, of an old-school radio off station, of water rushing down a waterfall, of the background cabin sound of a plane taking me somewhere exciting and new.

Just think about how many S sounds you hear every day – sssssssssss.

Consonance and dissonance have such sounds. Their meanings though,  are different, opposite. But we need them both for the sounds of the world to be made.

Wikipedia defines the words in the musical sense this way:

In music, a consonance (Latin con-, “with” + sonare, “to sound”) is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable (at rest), as opposed to a dissonance (Latin dis-, “apart” + sonare, “to sound”), which is considered to be unstable (or temporary, transitional). In more general usage, a consonance is a combination of notes that sound pleasant to most people when played at the same time; dissonance is a combination of notes that sound harsh or unpleasant to most people.

Wikipedia defines dissonance in a psychological sense this way:

In modern psychology, cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort when simultaneously holding two or more conflicting cognitions: ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel “disequilibrium”: frustration, hunger, dread, guilt, anger, embarrassment, anxiety, etc.

I suppose, in a sense, if everything has an opposite then cognitive consonance is a:

State of harmony and internal consistency arising from compatibility among a person’s attitudes, behavior, beliefs, and/or knowledge. (definition found here)

And so it is in my life and in my writing, I have a higher regard for consonance than dissonance and so I do my best to embrace the beauty of life and the people and things in it.

In writing, as in music and psychology, there is a need to counterpoint the lightness, beauty, and wonderful, positive feelings of a scene or situation with just a little even, of what exists in the shadows.

Some of the greatest writing I have read, even some of the lightest and most beautiful, leaves a tiny bit of darkness lurking somewhere behind. It does not cast a shadow over everything, it keeps something, the most slender, fragile thread, tethering the reader to reality.

With the reader knowing that tether is there, the writer can draw them into the most fantastical worlds imaginable. These are the worlds it fills my mind and my heart to bursting to create and bring to you. That is. perhaps, the goal, the dream, of any writer.


Elise ^_^


3 responses to “consonance and dissonance in life and writing

  1. Pingback: Survival of the Most Adaptable | Prepper Podcast Radio Network·

  2. Pingback: What is Cognition? | Behavioral Medicine·

  3. Pingback: Cognitive Dissonance | The Middle Pane·

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