Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The Poetry and The Music
The idea is to create a meaningful system of connecting the specific sounds of the poetry to musical tones, so that in a sense, in writing the poem, the particular vowels or vowel sounds used would suggest a specific and unique musical pattern. For the most part, the desire was to create a system based on the sounds in a meaningful way. For example, one early idea was to connect arrange the vowel sounds from those formed at the back of the palate to those formed in the front of the mouth with a tighter jaw. The problems that arose from this system included the fact that linguists do not agree on how many different vowel sounds there are in the English language and more importantly, English spelling offers no true connection between the written and pronounced vowel, and most importantly, experiments with this system using the 12-18 different vowel sounds suggested matching to a chromatic scale, which proved to create musical patterns that had a certain sameness, and were not pleasing overall. The Western ear hears seven main tones in music (the basic scale), with accidentals (sharps and flats) rounding out the repetoire for composers and songwriters. It’s logical to think of vowel sounds in terms of these main notes, with accidentals happening less frequently. Even within the seven tone scale, certain intervals are more common or pleasing to the ear, for example, the base note of any given scale (in C Major, C, or “doe” in the song Do Re Mi from The Sound Of Music), its fourth, fifth, interval above the base (F and G respectively for C Maj, and fa and sol in the song) and for jazzier ears, the seventh (B and ti).