Drabble 184 – Sotto Voce

A photo of a person playing the flute.

I took band for two years in middle school. It seemed like the kind of thing I should do, being someone who loves music, but it turns out I have no patience for breaking through a plateau. I reached a certain threshold of skill on the trumpet and abandoned it for the clarinet, but by the time I did the same thing with the clarinet my family was no longer willing to let me swap instruments, which is fair. As it turns out, I’m much better at appreciating music than I am making it.

But one thing that has lingered with me (aside from sitting on the front few inches of my chair) is how lovely all the different musical words are. Woodwind, reed, crescendo—each one itself a little song.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

SOTTO VOCE

(adv. or adj.) from Latin subtus, for “below,” and vocem, “voice”

Under the breath, or, in music, very softly.

When the orchestra is loud enough, you can say anything and nobody will hear you.

There’s no fraternizing allowed among the flutists, nor among the trombonists, nor the dummers, but Lila and Anne whisper together during the oboe solo. When not pressed to their flutes, their lips form terms of endearment. During the crescendo, they shout one another’s names and “I love you,” as part of the riotous melody, the horns and strings and woodwinds chiming in as if to agree.

If everyone around them hears, they are silent. The music carries on, the lyrics drowned out but still heard.

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