Classical Music Meets Classical Literature in “Ephemeris/Voyages in DwReam”

As a voracious reader and classical musician, I was intrigued by a new book which merges classical music with classical literature. William Jay’s The Ephemeris/Voyages in DwReam (Book 288 pgs, $54.95; Audio: 7 CDs, 8 hrs, $34.95; Book & Audio Bundle $69.95, published by Music of Words) comes with its own original musical score. The term “DwReam” is an acronym which stands for Dramatic Writing and Reading in Trained and Articulated by Music. The reader is supposed to listen to the score while reading the book, resulting in a heightened literary experience. According to the publisher:

The Ephemeris is meant to be read simultaneously while listening to the dramatic performance, at least the first time through. This has as much to do with the metrical interpretation of the musical component as the dramatic interpretation of literature… The musically entrained component of DwREAM is processed by a different part of the auditory cortex of the brain from that which processes the conventionally, visually read part. Total immersion is often reported at the result of the experience, and increased apprehension of literature.

I think the person who wrote this information meant to use the word comprehension, not apprehension…

In any case, the story takes place in a medieval seaside town on Cornwall’s coast, where Sea Captain Justin Rhodes tells the tales of his adventures at sea to a group of merchant seamen. The tales are interspersed with the commentary and observations of Justin’s inebriated friends.

The literary style is supposed to resemble Shakespeare, and the original musical score ranges from medieval folk fiddle music to Renaissance style orchestrals.

I listened to several audio and text samples on the book’s website. Because the snippets are out of context, it’s difficult to fully sense the intended effect of merging music and text. The music provides a nice atmosphere, although I can’t say that it contributes all that much to the words. Click here to hear samples from the book. And if you’re interested in purchasing the book, visit the Music of Words website for a special pre-order promotional offer of the book/audio bundle.

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