It’s the rhythm of a thing.
In our speech, it’s the way our voice modulates, with starts and stops (intentionally or not), that allows us to deliver a thought in a way that emphasizes some aspects — but not others. In music, it’s the sequence of notes or chords that draw it out, break it up – or build crescendo within a song. In writing, it’s the way sentences are organized and punctuated so that the reader has the opportunity to imbibe the message with the pacing that the writer intended.
Just as a movie score sets the mood for a scene, cadence informs meaning. It isn’t the story, song or sentence — it’s what shapes how we feel it. Cadence helps us perceive enthusiasm, certainty, desire, interest, intimacy, hope, intent. It establishes the ‘beat.’
As a writer, my thoughts don’t appear in my mind with cadence, but they land on the page with it. And because adjusting these beats in a script or copy can be the difference between good and great — it’s something I evaluate in every message.
is different from
“Yes, we can”
Which is different than
“Y e s s s s s s. We can.”
But I’ve been thinking – does cadence also exist between people? And if so, might slight tweaks in the cadence of relationships have analogous effects? Think of the real spaces (distance in miles) – and the emotional spaces — (distance in feelings, values, views) between every person you consider close. Just as we can feel near to someone (even a virtual stranger) who is actually far away, it’s possible to feel distant from someone (a friend, spouse or relative) sitting right next to us.
When beats are in sync, relationships feel naturally aligned.
When they aren’t, even the most basic of interactions are clumsy.
Sometimes, when I’m working on a messaging project, I’ll merely add a period and one word, and the entire sentiment of a sentence or tagline shifts. The client usually cocks her head and asks — what’s the big difference? My answer is that while it may look very small, there’s now space in between what is read…and… what is felt. In other words, that beat gives us space to feel.
This is why cadence reveals so much.
From a marketing view, people don’t take action to buy, do or subscribe to anything without first having a feeling. Think of your own attention – once someone has it — and imagine it like a magnet near a piece of iron; there’s a tension point before the magnet snaps into the surface — the pull before contact is made. It’s there in that space, from when there was no pull, to finding the pull — where you now have a beat.
Leaving the world of messaging (and physics), returning to the one of interpersonal connection, if I can adjust a beat in the way words flow, might I also be able to observe it in the way I flow — and check the pulse of connection… using this metaphor?
Relationships hold a thousand coordinates — from past rights and wrongs, to present reassurances and disappointments. These are what inform the space — they nurture closeness or magnify distance.
This – however profound, flawed or enduring it may be – is the space between us.
If we think of these spaces as melodic, it can create an almost rhythmic interpretation of our feelings, history and state of the union. Once heard, awareness is always an invitation to make change.
How’s the beat between you and…?
Can you hear it — feel it — follow it?
Is it too distant and hard to find?
Or… so synchronized and natural, you never stopped to consider it?
Everything has a beat, once you listen.
Can it be reset? Corrected?
Experience tells me that a small change can make a big difference, and a sequence that might have been deleted can now be kept – if modified.
Others may not be worth saving.
Hearing the beats — and feeling the in between spaces — is the first step in my own process.
It’s only after facing the music (as it were) that edits can work their magic.