4 abr 2007

Someone should establish an interdisciplinary field of study called song studies. Isn't that a fundamental category of human culture? That fundamental union between word and music that is present in just about every culture, and at every level of cultural production from high to low and middle. Then there would a small area of song studies that studied musicless songs, otherwise known as poems. Orphan songs that have lost their music or musical tradition. Among "orphan songs" there would be several categories;

(1) Song texts whose specific music or entire musical tradition has been lost.

(2) Song texts that are written without music, but that are still fundamentally song texts. Their music has just not been written yet.

(3) Songs written with an internal song music, that don't need musical settings because the music is in the words. [Is there any difference between (2) and (3)?]

(4) Poems that have one foot in the song tradition, but really have stepped over into the written poem tradition. Most renaissance sonnets, for example.

(5) Other kinds of poetry that are relatively alien to anything that might be sung.

The last category moves out of the orphan song into the new genre, which we might call still call "poetry" but that is relatively alien to most poetic traditions historically and anthropologically.

Cross posted to Refraneros y cancioneros

1 comentario:

John dijo...

Dude, I *love* you!

"Song studies" -- yes. Yes yes yes. A song is something different, this hybrid form; and yet, as you point out, it's more fundamental than a "hum" or a "chant" (observing my 4-year-old, who makes up songs but not music-less poems or word-less songs).

And the alchemy, the mystery (I'm a songwriter who used to, as a college student, write and recite and occasionally even publish poems) -- the subtle blend that happens in songwriting depends on a rhetorical understanding of the musical and the verbal idioms with which one is working. The academic or theoretical understanding of any of this is very bare bones -- which is astounding, now that you point it out!