Writing styles (and a musical comparison)

I quite like to compare music to all aspects of life. I suppose because of the formal generality of music and its non-representational nature allows one to see many things within a single piece or compositional theme. I thought that any good essay should make a statement concerning the unity of a subject matter. Any essay or monograph should address a single topic or set of related topics. How exactly this may be realised, I shall consider by a comparison to musical styles.

The Beethovian method:

Write essays with a defined introduction, that engenders the main thesis and the conclusion. Construct a strong sense of unity such that every clause and sentence melts into the next one. I consider this to be the most difficult, and the highest ideal of essay writing. The germ of a whole written piece should be summarised by the spirit of the first paragraph or sentence. Think (da da da daaaa) of the introduction of the Fifth Symphony.

Improvisational; avant-garde

Write as you think of something, and the style makes itself up by reflecting your own personality. This can be rude, boring, uninteresting, or a hodgepodge of your great influences subconsiously communicated as your writing emerges from thoughts to words.


This is a bad attempt at the Beethovian ideal. There is an attempt at structural unity in the essay but it is either crudely stated, or includes unnecessary words, sentences or digressions (baroque ornamentations: trills, mordents, turns etc..). It is also an attempt at being too clever when you don’t merit such intelligent writing (think about the role of numerology in JS Bach).


Similar to the Baroque in its excess. This kind of writing style uses big words for people who don’t know how to use them. They may be pretty sounding and assonant (remember, people who use ryhme in everyday speech are probably mentally ill, or some kind of retarded). This kind of writing is self indulgent without accessible context. It is like Blake’s poetry, it may sound pretty but you don’t know what the hell is going on.


Bethovenian to the extreme. The unity of theme is so strong that perhaps others cannot even understand your work. If you are writing for a highly technical audience who understands your background propositions or formalised axioms, this would be a possible avenue. Otherwise, comprehension is compromised over condensed information.


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