How Music is Related to Poetry
As humans it is fundamental to speak as it is to feel, to move as it is to think, to eat as it is to need. A child is born into this world with a cry and with a cry he feels, he thinks, he needs. At that very same moment, his mother understands. She understands even without words. We, humans, build this innate rhythm inside of us at a very young age that influence the way we move. We are made to listen to music and bounce to every beat until we learn, as the beat goes, every letter, then every syllable, then every word we are taught. Armed with words, the possibilities are without limit.
Music and Poetry
As humans it is fundamental for us to communicate with ourselves and with each other. As humans we get to enjoy the freedom to choose however which way we communicate. We can communicate through language, through movement, through art, through language, through music, through history. Music is how a musician communicates his feelings to the world. Poetry is how a poet shares his point of view to those who read his poems.
Poetry Words and Music Sounds
The distinction between one and the other is so small that it can be merely reduced to a technically. Music can be described as a sound that may be produced by mouth or by instruments in a particular pattern that results in a harmonious symphony of sounds that is both delightful and riveting to the senses. Ever remember the first time a song changed your life? Therein lies the power. Poetry, on the other hand, is made with words, carefully constructed in specific rhythm primarily to convey emotion or ideas. Both are so intertwined with each other because they are means of communication. They are tools we use to communicate. Both are manifestations of how one can make sense of the world, and how we make ourselves known that we are alive, that we are existing, and that we feel a certain way.
Poetry as an art
A smooth arrangement of notes is what most songs are. They all start with a rhythm. Poetry is just the same. Poetry as a technical form of writing has set rules or formulas that provide the poet with an ample semblance of structure in order to produce a piece that is well-balanced down to the last syllable. The perfect example is the haiku. The haiku is a poem with a fixed number of lines, and a fixed number of syllables per line. Music has more leeway when it comes to structure and mainly differ depending on the artist’s style or genre of choice. Poetry as an art form revolves around the flow, the use of words, the placing of the syllables. As mentioned, it can get very technical.
Technical approach to Music and Poetry
Music can also get very technical. An example of a technical genre of music would be classical which tends to be rigid and traditional. With or without a fixed format, music and poetry relate in the way that rhythm controls the words or the notes that follow. When we read poetry out loud, it almost sounds as if we are listening to a song. When we read the lyrics of a song out loud, it almost sounds as if it is poetry.
Both art forms are likewise intimately concerned with the meaning behind the poem or song. Poems are made to convey emotion or ideas with words. As much as there are words in a single language, there are perhaps innumerable ways to produce the perfect poem. Whether the poets choose to follow an iambic pentameter or go freestyle, it is ultimately up to him and his preference. A poet can even choose to create a poem that is frequently formed into music. These are lyrical poems—poems that are made into lyrics for a song! Artists these days are constantly innovating styles that incorporate this rhythm in the way their poems are formed and the words are sung or even performed as spoken poetry. Yet another beauty worth looking forward to as the years go by.
Much weight is given to the meaning behind these pieces because they are, by their very nature, emotional and thus, fundamental to our nature as humans. We feel almost as much as we think. Although structure is a tool used to swiftly combine these words forming a pattern in a foolproof manner, it is the impassioned aspect that brings most of us to tears. Structure without meaning is a mere skeleton. Just as when we study language, we learn of grammar and sentence construction, however, what eventually communicates our emotions are the words and their respective meanings.
There is a movie that comes to mind that perfectly exemplifies this connection. In the movie written and directed by Marc Lawrence called “Music and Lyrics,” Alex Fletcher was a struggling musician who only ever seemed to come up with melodies on his aged grand piano. He was hired by teen pop sensation Cora Corman to write a song for her new album. Nearing her set album launch, he had nothing to present and was still without a viable lyricist. It was not until his gardener, Sophie, started singing lyrics as she was watering the plants while he coincidentally was playing the melody. It was all magic after that. She wrote lyrics taken from snippets of her life and incorporated it into the song in a way that not only conveyed emotion but also evoked it from all those who listened.
In the movie, the way Sophie and Alex complemented each other so magnificently in producing one of the most wonderful songs to ever grace our ears is exactly how poetry fits so well with music. Music and lyrics, on their own, can already stand undoubtedly exceptional as independent art forms, however, together, it is truly one of life’s greatest gifts. And we are but the lucky ones.
We are lucky enough to be able to navigate the world through art, through music and poetry. We, as artists of our own lives, get to create pieces that have the potential to uplift another person, to empathize, to seduce, to inspire change, and even collective action! Poetry and music as a language, distinct yet intertwined, unconsciously shape the generation it thrives in. Both poetry and music have the power to fix a broken heart, to radiate joy, to trigger memories, to work up a dance routine, to motivate change, to teach a new language, to generate courage. These are the moments in life that make up who we are and art is ever present to give us the push we need to live our best lives.
It is not only a language between those in the present but also those in our past who are kind enough to share their own experiences for us to enjoy at the present time—it may be Billy Joel’s “Vienna” or “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. History has continuously inspired poems and music to be manifested in other art forms such as singing or dancing. It has been an effective way of showcasing the many cultures of the world. We are truly blessed with the many artists that have passed through and have shared their gifts.
Whichever way you see it, whether you are listening to a song or reading a poem, there is an indescribable joy in the sheer capacity of beats, syllables, words to impact our lives—this innate rhythm we were born with—it is all there for the taking and it is our responsibility to interpret them to the best of our abilities and pay it forward.