I caught the end of a piece playing on a classical radio station recently.  Afterwards, the announcer described the piece as having an “added sixth,” which he said that composers often used to hint at eternity.   The last note of that piece kept gnawing at me because, just as the announcer had explained, it denoted a hint of eternity or hope beyond the end of the piece.

I took piano lessons for eight years and didn’t remember the “added sixth.”  I jolted my memory with a little online research and found that it is the “[m]usical term invented by the French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau to describe the addition of a sixth from the bass to a subdominant chord when it is followed by the tonic chord.”  Basically, an A added to the C-Major chord of C-E-G.  (If you have a musical instrument nearby, play this and see what you hear.)

With that explained, I began to wonder how this interesting concept could be translated to written works other than music.  I liked how that one little note, added to a piece filled with other notes, left the listener wondering.  Hoping.

When I write, I want to give readers hope.  Not just a hope, but THE hope that comes from Christ.  But I don’t want it to be formulaic or a repeat presentation of the Gospel over and over again.  I want it to be like that one added sixth, which isn’t the same note for every piece.   For creativity like that, I have to depend on God’s guidance.  And although I don’t know what the “added sixth” will look like for my pieces, I look forward to seeing what God provides.

In what ways have you been able to add a bit of hope or hint at eternity in your writing?

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