Style Masquerade Follow-up

Building off of last week’s activities concerning “What Counts as Writing,” I want to look at how style can be influenced by audience. I posted last week that a tweet is a new form of writing that has become increasingly popular with the increase in social media use. The choice in diction used in a tweet can certainly be dependent on the user’s followers (audience). For example, a corporation using twitter for marketing purposes is going to want to avoid vague and abstract language so as to appeal to as wide an audience as possible while being as informative about the company as possible. On the other hand, my twitter is full of tweets that contain jargon and abstract inside jokes that I know my followers, which are comprised mostly of my friends, will be able to understand and enjoy.

Shifting focus now to another form of writing that I posted last week, musical artists have to be conscience of style, especially when considering syntax. One of the most common structures of syntax used in song lyrics is parallel. Parallel structure can be seen in different forms between different musical genres, each with their own audience of listeners. Rap music most commonly ends lines in rhyme, adding to the flow and rhythm that avid rap fans crave. The opening to Lil Wayne’s A Milli  is a good example of the parallel rhymes to end each line:

I’m a young money millionaire

Tougher than Nigerian hair

My criteria compared to your career this isn’t fair

Another form of parallel structure that emerges in song lyrics is repetition. Although used in many different genres, repetition can especially improve music that relies heavily on storytelling, adding an interesting stylistic element to the song. A band I really like that uses a lot repetition is The National. An example of this repetition can be found in the song Karen

I must be me, I’m in my head, blackbirds are circling in my head

I must be me, I must be me, black feathers are falling on my feat

Through varying uses of both diction and syntax, style can be a helpful way for a writer to develop an identity that can assist in reaching a specific audience.

Quinn Skalka

Junior studying EEB and writing. Originally from Battle Creek, the cereal capital of the world. Chicago sports fan. Enjoy longboarding, ultimate frisbee, and reading Sci-Fi/Fantasy series.

2 thoughts to “Style Masquerade Follow-up”

  1. This was a really interesting post as it tied together two seemingly different exercises we did in class. On one hand we have the style exercise focused mainly on technical sentence structure while on the other we examined writing that influences us in our everyday lives and as thoughtful writers. By showing how pop culture, particularly music, uses these different forms of diction and syntax to form music definitely changed my perspective on these activities. I definitely would not have thought of Lil Wayne in relation to parallel structure, but I certainly do see your point here. Another point you brought up that I touched upon is audience. One’s audience certainly affects how they choose to relay their message. I made this observation through Andrew Sullivan’s post but you also effectively conveyed your point using the above song lyrics. Thanks for the interesting read!

  2. The second I read your post, I just thought “wow, duh! He’s so right.” Music so clearly illustrates what we have been talking about with style, yet I never even thought about it in the same way. It really shows how much the rhythm and cadence of any piece of writing can carry just as much importance as the content. I also really liked your point about how the audience shapes how people write. It almost hands the controls over to the future reader of a piece.

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