Music and Poetry

So, I’ve been thinking about what I want for my music. In part, I think that’s a product of having less time to spend writing because of having a full time job. Do I want my music played by classical musicians and listened to on WNYC? Do I want teenagers to listen to it and find it a guide to a maturing emotional life? Do I want a hit on the radio? It’s not a question I’m used to thinking about, but the more restricted my time to write becomes, the more I want to focus that writing on what I truly want it to accomplish. So these larger scale questions are coming up for me.

An answer that seems good for me (for now) is that I want people to relate to my music the way I relate to poetry. I don’t relax to it, though a favorite line might go through my head as I wait to fall asleep. It’s something that I treasure when I’m alone, and want to feel a certain way. I take out a book, look up a poem I love, and as often as not I read it aloud alone in my room. The patterns of verse and the power of my favorite images and phrases are a delight for me.

Poetry is something I do with focused attention, and looking for a combination of a deep emotional reaction and pleasure. I enjoy reading poetry – it’s fun for me. It’s something both removed from life (and this is an important point for understanding what I want from my music) and simultaneously very immediate. I love when a poem goes from high emotional imagery to something plain and rough, like “You and I are old!” in Ulysses, by Tennyson (a poem I was planning to set, until Blago had to misquote at a press conference – now I have to wait a few years).

I’m not sure quite where to go with this idea, that I want people to relate to my music like I relate to poetry, but for now it provides a good guide to the kinds of feelings I’m trying to stir up in people. In particular I mean emotional depth and private pleasure.

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