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ChrisR

Incorporating Music in a Story?

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There's a piece of music that is an incidental component of a scene of the story I'm working on. It doesn't necessarily need to be played in the middle of the tale or anything, but it's an element. Is there a standard for how to introduce such an object? Embed a link? Footnote? Intro note? Grossly inappropriate? Thx

ChrisR

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This is a really interesting question, Chris R, because it wouldn't have arisen before the modern era of on-line publication.  As a consequence there hasn't been enough unanimity to develop a standard.  Personally I tend to like an embedded link enclosed in parenthesis to show the reader it is an aside.  But that's only one reader's opinion, made by a reader who is still partial to print publication where what you hum while reading is your own business.

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I like multi media content in or with stories if the author wants to include it. I have read stories with music embedded or linked and videos. I include some stuff in my own writing sometimes. It seems a shame not to be able to take advantage of the possibilities that online publishing affords. I guess it is for the reader to judge how well it works, but it is an option, to listen, to watch, not an obligation, if you prefer to keep the story in your head with your imagination.

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I didn't use music, but I quoted four lines of lyrics, with the copyright statement, in my story A Time When It All Went Wrong. I actually talked to a media and copyright attorney who said that what I did and how I did it should be okay. He suggested that I write to the publisher which I did, and I didn't hear back from them.

Colin  :icon_geek:

 

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This issue came up several years ago ( I raised it ) and there were several positions. I was using music in Wicked Boys and I wanted to link to particular works because at that particular point in the story, I thought the referenced work would contribute to creating the atmosphere. One respondent suggested the writing should be strong enough on its own to create the atmosphere without multimedia additions. I am a traditionalist and would generally eschew such tricks, though in the case of my story, I thought it would help. I chose to follow the suggestions of the respondents who wrote against it, but I am still of two minds. I think (and this is the weasel way out) it depends on the story, on your particular style, and the audience. I have read stories in which the additional material was quite valuable (sort of like a footnote in explanation). In other cases, its a distraction. 

This said, if I were writing Wicked Boys again, I would include the name of the song, when mentioned, as a link with a suggestion in the disclaimer that the reader <shift click> on the link so they can continue to read the story as the music plays. 

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I think the author can do as he likes, just as the reader can.  If the link is there, we can use it or ignore it.  This is a question where there's no wrong answer.  I guess for me, if I were into a story and the author provided me a link he thought appropriate, I'd click on it.  If I then found it distracting, I turn it off.  But it's existence would tell me it was something the author felt would enhance reading the story, so I'd be likely to try it.

 

C

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A word of warning. Be very careful about embedding links in stories to outside resources. You have to think about what will happen if the link is no longer valid. I was reading a story on another site and clicked on a link to a piece of music. The story was about six years old and the link came up with a 404 error.

That is not too bad. A few months ago I was reading a technical article on a closed site and clicked on a link in the article. The article was from 2006. The link rather than going to the quoted article, went to a download, which turned out to be malware. Fortunately Avast caught it and blocked the download. Some investigation found that the original site ceased to exist in 2010 but its domain had been taken on by people who had reinstated the links and connected them to malware.

So if you are embedding links in your story, think about what happens if the link is broken.

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Good point about the link no longer working. I regard that as unfortunate, but if you are really interested you can sometimes find an alternative, example with YouTube links (which can be annoying when you get the message "not available in your country.") Malware is everywhere - that is a question of protection and being vigilant. But I don't think any of this should stop us including links and expanding possibilities - they work or not, it adds something sometimes and takes nothing away (hopefully).

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Thanks for the feedback, guys. I hadn't thought about people grabbing links and being unkind. But on the other hand, two links I was looking to use disappeared in the past 2 weeks (probably copyright issues) so I know links can be fragile things. On the other hand, (how many hands is that?) it's fun to be on the cutting edge of this process of publishing in the ether! Thanks again.

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Chris, I have just finished writing an article for a local website. In it I have three links to pieces of music. The way I have solved the problem has been to obtain copies of the music which were either copyright free or for which I could obtain a copyright release. Then I copied the files into the same directory as the text for the article placing local links in the article. I know this approach is not always possible but it is probably the best way to avoid broken or highjacked links.

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