#1
So, I have composed a number of instrumental jams, with the idea I'd compose lyrics at some point. However, I also became interested recently in reading great poems of the past (Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Byron, Shakespeare, etc.)

Then I thought... here are these masterpieces of verse that have stood the test of time. Who am I to throw together some rhymes and think they are as worthy? And in today's age where each generation is less likely to crack a book than the one before, setting great poems of the past to music might just serve a great public service, bringing these works to an audience that they might otherwise not reach?

And, too, I just don't think much of my lyric-writing ability, so this is also a quick fix for that.

I know that some of that stuff is going to be dated, and maybe music is about finding lyrics that are relevant to what's happening to day. However, in reading through a book of poems I got a week ago, I found some that were 100 years old, but were immediately relevant... One was on the importance of each generating thinking for itself and not following what prior generations did out of mere habit. Another was on economic class issues. The two songs I've done so far (just roughly, a couple takes) came out folksy, Americana since it was just me on an acoustic guitar while singing the poems, but I could see doing some with distorted guitars, percussion, synths, and stuff as I get more comfortable with this notion.

So, the project is to take 10-12 great poems of the past and set them to music. I am thinking I'll do some quick & dirty self-recordings on YouTube and see what kind of feedback I'm getting, and if it's good, try to do some more polished recordings that I might make available for download individually or as a collect, or even on CD.

I notice most poems tend to have the same meter / cadence from line to line, so there's not really a "chorus" to give the listener a break from the verse. For one song, I have made the last couple lines of each stanza a "chorus" with a different type of melody than the other lines. For another I put in an instrumental break between stanzas that gives the listener a bit of variety.

I'm sure this sort of thing has been done to some extent, but it's not something I've heard of, so I imagine it has not been on a wide scale, or has not had a lot of success, or maybe I am just not looking in the right place. If anyone has experience with other artists who are already doing this, I'd appreciate hearing about it.

I'd really like to feel like I'm helping to preserve / spread the "best of the best," and I'm not really that knowledgeable about poetry, so I'd welcome suggestions on poems or poets I should consider for this project. I'm also open to possible collaborators, or any kind of thoughts / advice.

Ken
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