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Music has always been a driving force within our society. It is a way to express one’s feelings without having to directly state them and in doing so, convey them with more emotion than a direct admission. Nocturnes by: Kazuo Ishiguro is a novel that emphasizes the importance of music through short stories, namely: Crooner, Come Rain or Come Shine, and Cellists. These works show the impact that music has on love. The works show love that is built on a foundation of music rather than typical human interaction and examines the natures of such relationships.
Cellists and Crooner both revolve around how a relationship based around music is essentially destined to fail. In Cellists, a young man is taught to play the cello by a woman who he begins to fall in love with based on her musical tutelage, but with no knowledge about her as a person. When it is revealed that the woman has no real experience or ability, the man is forced to leave her.
In Crooner, former superstar, Tony Gardner attempts to serenade his wife, who only married him for his fame in an attempt to renew their dying relationship. Both of these stories show mediocre relationships built around appreciation, but not true love and both of these relationships fail miserably as a result. However, in Come Rain or Come Shine, Ishiguro writes about a friendship that is built around taste in music rather than a romantic relationship. In this case, Ray and Emily are brought together as friends by the fact that they have similar taste in music, so much so that Emily’s husband, Charlie tells Ray to not mention music around her to avoid making her pursue Ray romantically.
Music is shown as a way to bring people together, but by no means is it a substitute for human interaction. People become close through music, but love is something that must come from the people themselves and their care for each other. All three stories also focus on deteriorating relationships. Interestingly, Crooner and Come Rain or Come Shine both take place in that final phase of the relationship, but Cellists is a story that shows such a relationship from beginning to end. In Cellists, Ishiguro shows the first interaction between Eloise and Tibor as well as the growing bond between the two, paralleled by Tibor constant improvement at the cello. However, when Eloise reveals that she has not played a cello since she was eleven, Tibor begins to realize that she is not the woman he was falling in love with, prompting them to leave each other, much like Lindy in Crooners who marries Tony for his fame, but divorces him when he becomes irrelevant.
Come Rain or Come Shine is the only one of these stories in which the fractured relationship is healed, ironically enough through music when Ray uses songs to show that Charlie truly cares for Emily and convinces her to reach out and help fix their relationship. Despite the idea of music being a mediocre foundation for a relationship, Ishiguro glorifies music in all of these stories and shows it as a fundamental aspect of life. Crooner and Cellists are both about musicians who use their love for music to take them further in love and in life while Come Rain or Come Shine is about a man who just loves music and forms uses this love to form close bonds. Ishiguro’s stories tackle the relationship between love and music in a way that is both meaningful and real in that the interactions between the characters matter. Love does not always last forever and this especially applies to relationships built on interests rather than human connection. However, not all such connections have to fail. If the proper effort is made by all parties involved, a relationship can be maintained. Ultimately, love is a feeling that depends completely on the people and what they are willing to do to maintain it.
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