Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Play It By Ear

John McAuliffe isn't entirely convinced by Paul Muldoon's foray into song-writing:
Rock lyrics, though, are far more confining and precast, formally, than the expansive long rhymed poems and brilliant sonnets and sequences of Muldoon’s poetry. At times a reader can almost hear the sounds of Muldoon’s wheels spinning as he attempts to drive the lyrics towards the territory of his poems.
Matthrew Zapruder reminds us of the difference between poems and song lyrics:
Words in a poem take place against the context of silence (or maybe an espresso maker, depending on the reading series), whereas, as musicians like Will Oldham and David Byrne have recently pointed out, lyrics take place in the context of a lot of deliberate musical information: melody, rhythm, instrumentation, the quality of the singer’'s voice, other qualities of the recording, etc. Without all that musical information, lyrics usually do not function as well, precisely because they were intentionally designed that way. The ways the conditions of that environment affect the construction of the words (refrain, repetition, the ways information that can be communicated musically must be communicated in other ways in a poem, etc.) is where we can begin to locate the main differences between poetry and lyrics.

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