The music of calligraphy

Why do some people write well and others not so well? It gets frustrating especially when all concepts are correct—downstrokes are thick, upstrokes are thin, slant angle is on fleek, all letters formed correctly—and still it doesn't look as nice as those in shown exemplars.

As a trained flautist, I try to see the similarities in learning calligraphy and music.


An "a" is an "a". 

Whether in music or in writing, we can teach a beginner how to write or play "a". It's actually very simple.

On a flute, press the thumb, index, and middle fingers on your left hand.  

On a pen, form an oval, then a line down.


Obviously there are other aspects to writing and music that make a piece grand and beatiful, the absence of which leaves nothing but a dull and weary attempt at creating something.

As I listen to Rondeau Jean-Joseph Mouret, I notice how there are multiple renditions and arrangements of the same melody, all of them sounding equally good in their own way. 

And then there are pieces played by amateurs, who play the exact same notes but fall short.


In practice, oh the similarities between music and calligraphy are numerous.

Just as you would want to hold an instrument properly from the get-go, one should learn to hold the pen properly. Just as you would want to breathe with the diaphragm instead of the chest, one should learn how to write with the arm rather than fingers.

And just as you would want to learn scales and arpeggios the right way, we should do drills that help us understand the relationship of every stroke to each other.


Just as you do not simply attend a music lesson then call yourself a maestro, you should not attend a calligraphy class then call yourself a calligrapher. 


There is as much to learn in calligraphy as there is much to learn in music.


But really, if you want to call yourself a master penman after watching two videos online, go ahead. Life is too short to be unhappy. Love,

@YakiUjohn the overdressed person at parties


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