Composing Rayuela: The Musical Element in Julio Corrazar’s Narrative

The work of the novelist and the composer have great similarities. At the heart of their practice, each responds to an initial idea, or 'inspiration', and proceeds to develop it within either a grammatical or musical syntax. Accepting this basic point of commonality, it follows that some of the methods traditionally used in the analysis of literature can be applied to musical works, and vice versa. Musicologist Alan Shockley is just one of many to have delved into the possibilities of this practice. He states,

The impulse of linking music with words is irresistible ... those writing about music continue not only to pen new works but also borrow methods from language theory and from literary criticism in order to do so... (1-2)

In Music in the Words: Musical Form and Counterpoint in the Twentieth-Century Novel, Shockley offers analysis of literary works that utilise a musical structure that has been consciously implemented by their authors. His examples include Douglas Hofstadter's Goedel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (1979), which experiments by labelling and structuring its chapters and sections after musical forms, for example 'Prelude ... Ant Fugue', and Anthony Burgess' On Mozart (1992) which adopts musical forms that follow the ideas of James Joyce's Ulysses. Shockley's analysis demonstrates not only that it is possible to interpret music and literature through complementary methods, but also that the creation of major works of literary or musical art is frequently influenced by an interaction between the disciplines.

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Published 1 June 2014 in Volume 29 No. 1-2. Subjects: Cortazar, Julio, Interdisciplinary studies, Music.

Cite as: Verdie, Adriana. ‘Composing Rayuela: The Musical Element in Julio Corrazar’s Narrative.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 29, no. 1-2, 2014.