Dissonance is the usage of impolite, harsh-sounding, and unusual phrases in poetry. In other words, it's far a deliberate use of inharmonious words, phrases, or syllables intended to create harsh sounding outcomes. Dissonance is contrary of assonance, and much like cacophony, which is also a use of inharmonious sounds. This unpleasant combination of consonants and vowels create a clumsy sound, which makes the studying uncomfortable, and adds emotional intensity to a state of affairs or moment.
Use of Dissonance in Everyday Life and Music
Dissonant sounds also occur in normal life. For example, the sound of a crying infant and a screaming person are dissonant sounds. These sounds are annoying and alarming to the listeners. In song, dissonance may make listeners sense uncomfortable; however, it helps to create a feel of tension in musical compositions.
Examples of Dissonance in Literature
Example #1: Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister (by way of Robert Browning)
“Gr-r-r–there go, my heart’s abhorrence!
Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
God’s blood, would not mine kill you!
What? Your myrtle-bush desires trimming?
Oh, that rose has prior claims –
‘St, there’s Vespers! Plena gratia
Ave, Virgo! Gr-r-r–you swine!”
Browning captures the attention of his readers via starting and finishing the above poem with a word “Gr-r-r.” While inside the rest of the stanza, he has employed dissonance.
Example #2: The Dalliance of the Eagles (by Walt Whitman)
“The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,
Four beating wings, beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling,
In tumbling turning clustering loops, instantly downward falling.”
Whitman has hired dissonance via describing eagles. He has blended assonance and mono and bi-syllabic words to create dissonance.
Example #3: Wind (through Ted Hughes)
“At midday I scaled along the residence-facet as a ways as
The coal-residence door. Once I seemed up –
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope…
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly.”
See how vowel sounds are so different inside the following traces that they seem clashing with every another. These harsh sounds create disturbing impact that catches our interest.
Example #4: Sunday Morning (by Wallace Stevens)
“Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of historic sacrifice.”
This is a very good example of dissonance, where harsh-toned words interrupt the smooth and rhythmical go with the flow of the words and therefore create annoying and jarring impact.
Example #5: Macbeth (via William Shakespeare)
“Of all guys else I have averted thee.
But get thee back. My soul is an excessive amount of charged
With blood of thine already.”
In the above traces, Shakespeare has used blank verse and variation vowel sounds to create unpleasant effects.
Example #6: Carrion Comfort (via Gerard Manely Hopkins)
“Not untwist — slack they may be — these final strands of man
Can something, hope, wish day come, now not pick out no longer to be.
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones?”
Hopkins has used alliteration with high accented syllables and dissonance that echo speaker’s inner turmoil and noise and uncomfortable situations.
Example #7: Princess Ida (by way of Gilbert and Sullivan)
“Women of Adamant, honest neophytes—
Who thirst for such preparation as we give,
Attend, even as I spread a parable.
The elephant is mightier than Man,
Yet Man subdues him. Why? The elephant
Is elephantine anywhere however here (tapping her forehead)…”
These lines have used abrupt and conversational style. Also, the usage of dissonance brings greater abruptness in its style, causing shock and marvel to the readers.
The use of inharmonious sounds creates unpleasant outcomes and draws attention of the readers by way of creating thrilling variations. It is determined in poetry, plays, advertising, song and everyday life. Its cause is to depict some sort of discomfort, making the readers or the target market to feel surprise and marvel. It enables to explain the situations, that are emotionally turbulent and tumultuous. However, on occasion the poets use dissonance to create humorous outcomes too. They regularly use these sounds in an unexpected manner to find out the boundaries of the language.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw