With my hearing being not as good as when I was a younger man, I think about sound in poetry. I believe that sound is one of the most important things in poetry, if not the most important thing. Whenever I hear more than one S in a line, or more than one T, or ST next to TS, the sounds just start to dance back and forth in my mind. Sometimes they waltz and sometimes they break dance. Why is sound important? Because with sound you can create tension or you can create relief. Take the alliterative statement, “Charlie chased the chairs away,” as an example. There is tension in the statement itself, but the CHs create even bigger tension because of their quick and hard, almost crunchy, sound. To me the CHs sound like a fork being scraped against the E-string of an upright bass, but to others the CHs might sound like a wedding dress gliding against a glass coffee table. This is something else that I love about sound; the fact that a sound can have more than one meaning. Can you believe that? How can a sound have more than one meaning? It’s just sound. Sound is more than sound. Sound is an emotion, or various emotions. Sound is a scream, or a SCREAM. Sound is sound, or no sound. Just imagining what one can do with sound is overwhelming.
Music also uses sound, duh. Music can be fast, or slow. Loud, or quiet. Hard, or soft. But what happens when music and poetry are combined, specifically Jazz music and poetry? Whenever I think of poetry with music I think of the dog and cat that wore all black and performed poetry(?) on Pee Wee’s Playhouse. What do you guys think of poetry being accompanied by music, or music being accompanied by poetry?
I’ve attached Langston Hughes performing “The Weary Blues” to a Jazz accompaniment because it illustrates the power that combining poetry with music can have. Whenever Hughes pauses, the music continues. Whenever the music pauses, Hughes continues. And the calming tone of the Jazz juxtaposed against the content of the poem creates a feeling in me that I can’t explain.