Consonance in Literature, Music & Film (Definition & Examples)

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Definition: Consonance is repeating nearby consonant sounds within text or speech. It can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of words but is most commonly found at the end.

In screenwriting consonance can be used to create auditory harmony and enhance narrative cohesion, often through dialogue, music, or sound design, to evoke specific emotional responses or underscore thematic elements.

Examples of Consonance in Movie Scripts

Here are two examples from screenplays that effectively use consonance:

Fight Club (1999)

“The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club.”

Consonance: The repetition of the “t” sound in “first,” “Fight,” “not,” and “talk” amplifies the seriousness and clandestine nature of the club.

V for Vendetta (2005)

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate.”

Consonance: This quote is a treasure trove of consonance, especially notable in the repetition of the “v” sound throughout, which ties the whole introduction together musically and thematically.

Examples of Consonance in Literature

Here are two examples from literature that effectively use consonance:

“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

In this famous poem, Poe uses consonance to add a musical quality and enhance the eerie atmosphere. An example is found in the line:

“And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain”

Consonance: Here, the repetition of the ‘s’ sound in “silken,” “sad,” and “uncertain” adds to the soft, whispery quality, enhancing the poem’s spooky and melancholic mood.

“The Tyger” by William Blake

Blake employs consonance to contribute to his poem’s rhythmic and thematic depth. An example can be seen in:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night;”

Consonance: The repetition of the ‘t’ sound in “Tyger,” “bright,” and “night” not only ties these images together but also adds a sense of rhythm and emphasis to the awe-inspiring subject of the poem – the tiger.

Examples of Consonance in Song Lyrics

Here are three examples from song lyrics that effectively use consonance:

“Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan

Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’, I was layin’ in bed

Consonance: The repetition of the “n” sound in “mornin'”, “sun”, “shinin'”, and “layin'” creates a soothing and rhythmic quality that mirrors the reflective mood of the song.

“Lose Yourself” by Eminem

Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity

Consonance: The repetition of the “t” and “y” sounds in “back”, “reality”, “there”, and “gravity” adds emphasis and a sense of urgency to the lyrics, mirroring the song’s theme of seizing the moment.

“Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish

So you’re a tough guy, like it really rough guy

Consonance: The repetition of the “g” sound in “tough guy” and “rough guy” highlights the mocking tone of the song, contributing to its playful yet edgy mood.

The difference between Alliteration and Consonance

Alliteration and consonance are literary devices used in poetry and prose to create rhythm and enhance the sound of the language.

While they share similarities, they are distinct in their application and effect. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between alliteration and consonance:

Alliteration focuses on repeating sounds at the beginning of words, whereas consonance involves the repetition of consonant sounds that can occur at any part of the word.

Read more about Alliteration in Film.

Conclusion

Consonance enriches the texture of literature, screenplays, and song lyrics, offering a unique auditory experience.

Whether in the subtle dialogue of a film, the creation of a distinct character (like V in “V for Vendetta”), the narrative of a poem, or the catchy chorus of a song, consonance enhances the rhythmic quality, evokes emotions, and reinforces thematic elements, enabling creators to engage audiences more deeply.

Up Next: What is Assonance in Film and Literature?

Author

  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns filmdaft.com and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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