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Sunday Scribblings #73: That Wonderful Connection of Words and Music

Another Sunday, and another post that I bring back from the archives; this is one where I wrote about what Music Is to me (and to many of us as well, of course). And so the “Music Is…” section is the one I revived (with a few updates to fit today) while the other sections, including the ‘Poetry: Connection of Words and Music’ Poetic Sunday section have been added keeping in line with my Sunday Scribblings posts.

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Sunday Scribblings #73: That Wonderful Connection of Words and Music

“Music is poetry, babe. Each note is a word that’s uniquely crafted to go with the next note. For me, the only way it gets better is if you put that to lyrics. You take them apart, any good song tells a story separately, through the music and through the lyrics. What makes it grab you by the balls is when you put them together.”
― Kristen Ashley, Fire Inside

Music Is….

From Ages Ago

“If music be the food of love, play on” – this is the opening line of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Day. 

Music is a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people. For me, music brings a smile to my face when I hear my son practice on his piano and makes every chore of mine way lighter; music brings a tear in my eye when I hear the sad strains of Kishore Kumar singing “Chingaro Koi Bhadke“; it brings dance to my feet when I hear any upbeat tunes, be it Waka Waka by Shakira, or Desi Girl, or bhangra or salsa; music brings peace to my mind; joy to my heart ;and pervades every emotion for me.

So today October 10, 2011, when I first wrote this post, was an outpouring of emotions when we went to the annual recital program at my son’s music school. All the kids who performed – though so young – are passionate, talented, and just plain wonderful.

We came back enriched with the experience.

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Berthold Auerbach

And Today

Music still continues to bring a smile to my face and wraps around my heart with warmth. It effuses and enhances emotions based on mood – both its own and mine. And I continue to dance, smile, tear up, or sing along as the music demands!

From that earlier day I wrote the ‘Music Is…’ part of this post to today, things have changed too. Then it was my son playing one instrument – the piano. And today, he plays both the piano and the trumpet while his younger sibling, my daughter plays the flute (and played the piano for a while). Today, they entertain us with duets too every once in a while – from playing a popular western song to beloved Bollywood numbers.

And we are enriched with the experience!

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” – Plato

Poetic Sundays

Gorman’s reading of her poem at the Presidential Inauguration was music to the ears, wasn’t it? And this brings me to today’s Poetic exploration – that of the connection between music and poetry. While I won’t deep-dive into it for there is so much to explore here, I will highlight some of the main things.

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

While writers use words with intention and do their best to convey the right message to their audiences, poets do so as well with an additional emphasis on how the words they use sound. Not just the being read aspect of the words on paper, but the being heard part of it matters as well in verses, poems, rhymes, and more. So let us explore the various ways that poetry provides a connection between words and music.

Image contains partial view of music sheet for twinkle twinkle little star and the pin title says Poetic Sundays -- Poetry: Connection of Words and Music at LadyInReadWrites.com

Poetry: Connection of Words and Music

While I read poems many a time silently and to myself, I am often tempted to read it out aloud; or rather, sing it out loud to a familiar tune as the words of the poem somehow lend themselves to that specific beat or rhythm. And sometimes rap it out to my own made up tune!

And I do feel that (almost) all poems can be set to music; whether they are structured or not, rhyme or not, poetry can be performed, and hence sung. So poetry is, in a way, a wonderful connection of words and music. One of the bridges between these worlds of words and music. It helps us make music with words; or in other words, providing words for music (well, duh, right?!) What do you think?

Nursery Rhymes and Poems for Children

Nursery rhymes are a form of poetry and we grow up reciting them to tunes. Like ‘Mary had a little lamb’ for one, or the ever popular ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’ After all, no matter what type of poem it is, there is rhythm in it. Rhythm is a basic part of both music and poetry.

Lyrical Poetry Across Ages

And then there is more specifically lyrical poetry (ode, sonnets, elegies, and such) which have been set to music or performed with some repeated rhythm and tune for centuries even! From eons ago to today’s spoken-word poetry, there is rhythm and cadence to poetry across ages.

Music is the shorthand of emotion.  ~Leo Tolstoy

Looking From the Musical Angle

On the music side, we cannot forget rap (and if I dive deeper, which I mentioned I won’t, there is bound to be more). Rap lyrics are wondrous poems in themselves, and rap artists are truly talented poets! Oh, how can I leave this part without talking about the Blues. I wrote a whole post on it earlier and though the post was about the Blues poem, it deserves its spot in the musical section truly.

Across Cultures

I love how the Welsh word “cerdd” can be translated as either “verse” or “music” (ref: #3 in references below). And when I learned verses of the epic poem Mahabharatha as an eighth-grader (or the Ramayana in ninth-grade) in India, I was doing so in tune as I had heard some of those sung in various classical songs over the years. It was the same with many other poems in regional languages like Hindi, Tamil, or Kannada.

And speaking about ‘across cultures’, music is an universal language and I often times marvel at how singers sing songs written in languages they don’t know or speak; and they do so fluently and effortlessly!

The Benefits of Connections

Where there are connections, there is always bound to be a multitude of benefits. And it is true of the connection between music and poetry as well. So here are a few points to highlight those:

  • Very simply, it makes the experience something more. Poetry and music together enhance and make each other better!
  • For young children and beginning learners as well as those with learning disabilities, this connection between words and music makes the learning experience more fun and easier. ReadWriteThink offers lesson plans to explore how to use this connection (ref #4 in below section).
Devices Used in Poetry to Bring Musicality

Like I mentioned earlier, spoken word poets automatically think about how their words will sound as they write them down; for the intention is to perform. But poets also use the basic concepts that are in music and poetry to bring musicality and rhythm to their words; these include rhyme, meter, and repetition among others. Check out this article on WritingForward for examples on how these are used. I love how repeated consonants or alliteration automatically add a beat to the words we write; and I often find myself reading those words out loud without realizing it.

Additional Reading, References, and h/t:
  1. Poetry and Music (Poets.org)
  2. List of Songs Based on Poems (Wikipedia)
  3. Poetry and music are more closely related than we think (Guardian)
  4. The Poetry and Music Connection (LiveAbout)
  5. The Connection Between Poetry and Music (ReadWriteThink)
  6. Poetry: Making Music with Words (WritingForward)
Related Books and etcs.

A couple of these I have read or used before while the rest I need to read for myself as well.

Recently

On My Blog and Home Front

Since my last Sunday Scribbling (last week this time around!), I did not bring much to the blog – just one additional post; and while I had hoped to post more, home projects took a lot more time and effort than expected. But it was all worth it.

So here are the posts this past week.

Like I mentioned last week, we finally got to work on the long-planned bookshelf from Ikea, along with couple smaller things that came our way as a result. Here is the end result.. I need to take a better pic though.. 🙂

And then there was more.. but I can talk about those later this week.

Upcoming

On My Blog and Home Front

Coming up this week (dare I write down titles?) are mini-reviews of recent children’s books read as well as other book reviews and features along with recipes and more. On the home-front, gardening and some more organizing to be done.

This Week’s Celebrations

The Literary and Close-to-it Celebrations

  • The birthdays this week… 22nd June is Dan Brown’s and June 23 celebrates Markus Zusak’s birthday. June 24th celebrates Anita Desai’s birthday while the 25th of June is both Yann Martel and George Orwell’s birthdays. And the 26th brings with it the birthday of Pearl S Buck while June 27th is for E. R. Braithwaite, Helen Keller, and Teju Cole

The Foodie Celebrations

The Other Celebrations

Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, this was it for this post. As always, appreciate and totally welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions on these scribblings on Sunday! And which of these days in this wonderful week do you plan to celebrate? And what about you, dear reader – do you think about making music with words; aka writing poems?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

13 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #73: That Wonderful Connection of Words and Music

  1. Music is my passion even though I can’t sing I’m always humming a tune. You’ve had a busy week, seem like it was just last Sunday Scribbling time! I love your bookshelf and it’s so full!

  2. What is it about music? It can (almost) instantly pop me into that lovely state of flow. Right now, I’m listening to our blogging friend Bryan’s Chill Out Tent as I read your blog and write. It’s a relaxing experience.

    One of the best things I ever did in my life was to learn to play guitar. I’ve had more fun with that over the years than anything else I’ve ever done. (Well, maybe except reading…and blogging…)

    Your bookshelves look fantastic. I bet you had fun organizing these.

    Have a great week!

  3. I love music a lot and love reading poems as well. Music helps me a lot, most especially during the dark times of my life. Really have a great time reading your article, thank you!

  4. Music is such an amazing part of my life. i couldn’t image a world without it and words to express ourselves. Through music or otherwise.

  5. Music keeps me sane and centered. It’s my outlet when I feel overwhelmed and can’t figure out how to express it.

  6. Just like you, I also feel that poems can be set to music. I am glad to read your insights about the connection between poetry and music and I totally agree with you. Can’t wait to look for my old poetry notebook again and see what I got.

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