16 may. 2007

While my students were taking an exam, I came up with a proposal for deep rhythmic analysis:

Choose a poem. The poem must be on that you think will withstand this kind of scrutiny in the first place. The exercise won't work otherwise. It also won't work if it is approached in a perfunctory spirit. In fact it won't work unless you kick the bejeezus out of it. The value is in that last 5% of insight, not in the 95% of description.

(Get past all the obvious points quickly, the syllable counting. That's not the point of the exercise.)

Now talk about some of the basic rhythmical devices. Parallelisms? Alliteration? The length of phrases, the ways phrases are linked together. Just describe what's happening in the poem rhythmically. Some points might still seem obvious, but will lead to other insights a little later on.

Now try to describe the rhythmic style or approach of the poem in more holistic terms. What is the rhythmic feel of the poem? Nervous, calm, stately, breezy? What is its overall shape or form? What contributes to this effect? Go back to the basic scansion and see what the poet is doing on the level of syllable and line. How does your holistic conclusion relate to other poems by the same author? To the time period in which the text was written? You may even want to talk about other dimensions of the poem at this point.

Finally, draw some conclusions. Write a single sentence that sums up the most significant thing learned.

Interpret the holy shit out of the poem. (Do a close reading for meaning.) What aspects of your rhythmic analysis are relevant to this interpretation?


Next, take your favorite musician and do an analysis of his or her rhythmic style. Write down as many ideas as you can. How much harder/easier was it to do this?

1 comentario:

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