#1
the relationship between music and poetry is about as old as dinos. for whatever reason, our culture has conceded to call poetry set to music "lyrics". this is supposed to be diminutive or something, i'm not sure. some suppose that to be the words in a song is inherently inferior to those which are not.

here we discuss music as a context for poetry, not as a means to an end itself. in classic butt_rock_feel style i will present examples. here is one we've all heard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD3VsesSBsw

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
egestatem,
potestatem
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
obumbrata
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!


it is imperative that you be able to pronounce the latin. translating the poem is a sin that i will not commit. this poem was not originally set to music. that happened many centuries later.

here, on the other hand, is a poem that was originally set to music. i've had to type this off the sleeve to the lp cause apparently the legit emo kids are too cool to post the lyrics online.

there is on this paper a forest
where we used to belong
there is in this book a garden
where once cast out we did not belong to each other
in our case it was knowledge and drugs that tore us apart
in our case divinity cove

then came the many ways and vistas of god
machines, webs, and spiders
i remember pulling up thousands of orange stakes with you

the song of god helped us himself for he knew too
that the spiders, insects were of no use
without their juice
machines, webs, spiders
killed thousands of caterpillars
with you and your idol
put rocks in the gas tank
fucked up the bulldozers

god is the life

he's a vampire feeding off itself
and i guess that's why it still goes on now
it's a cycle, snake eating tail

i thought it meant divided
i know it does
it was always my misunderstanding of the word "divinity"
i thought it meant divided
i know it does
and god came in and it was not good

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok37roIlHSQ


for one final example, a song you all probably associate with pulp fiction but is in fact so beautiful i swoon when i hear it: Μουσουρλού. the song is in post-ottoman modern greek. again, no translation will be provided because that ruins it.

Μουσουρλού μου η γλυκιά σου η ματιά
μ' άναψε μικράκι μου φωτιά
άιντε, για χαμπίμπι, άιντε γιαλελέλι, ωχ
άιντε, να σε κλέψω μέσα από την Μπαρμπαριά

Ωχ, Μουσουρλού

Τρέλα θα μου 'ρθει, δεν υποφέρω πια
άιντε αν δεν δε σε πάρω, πω, πω, θα τρελαθώ
Μουσουρλού μου η γλυκιά σου η ματιά
φλόγα μ' άναψε, μες στην καρδιά
Άιντε γιαχαμπίμπι, άιντε γιαλελέλι, ωχ
μέλι στάζει από τα χείλη, ωχ

Ωχ, Μουσουρλού

Αν δεν σε πάρω, φως μου, θα τρελαθώ
άιντε, να σε κλέψω μέσα από την Αραπιά
Μουσουρλού μου, η γλυκιά σου η ματιά
φλόγα μ' άναψε στο στόμα μου φωτιά
άιντε γιαχαμπίμπι, άιντε γιαλελέλι, ωχ
άντε αν δε σε πάρω πω, πω, θα τρελαθώ

Ωχ, Μουσουρλού

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qd2Nb-oh4I


what are your thoughts on music and poetry?

note: yes there is a reason i chose to post these three songs
note: this does not belong in s&l thanks
i don't know why i feel so dry
#2
I think that music with lyrics is a combination of music and literature. When analysing music, lyrics (or poetry with music) are literature that flow on top of the music and don't have a direct effect on the music itself (indirectly it can, since verbal language is sound and lyrics can shape the structure of a piece). When analysing the art as a whole though, lyrics/poetry are very important to the work's intended meaning and/or effect.
#3
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

Music does not need lyrics or words. Music is a higher level of expression than verbal language could ever hope to achieve. Words and worldly associations weigh it down.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Sep 28, 2014,
#4
Quote by Xiaoxi
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

Music does not need lyrics or words. Music is a higher level of expression and words weigh it down.




this will be an interesting thread
i don't know why i feel so dry
#6
Quote by Xiaoxi
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

Music does not need lyrics or words. Music is a higher level of expression and words weigh it down.

I kind of agree. I guess the people who care about the lyrics are the less musical ones. A lot of them don't understand instrumental music at all and can't stand it due to lack of vocals. It's like the vocal line and lyrics are the only things worth something. I don't get it. Often instrumental music can be way more expressive.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Sep 28, 2014,
#7
Quote by Xiaoxi
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

Music does not need lyrics or words. Music is a higher level of expression than verbal language could ever hope to achieve. Words and worldly associations weigh it down.


I don't entirely agree but I remember you not liking Fantano's review of the most recent Lana Del Rey album. I agree with you on that; when people base their entire opinion around music over whether or not they like the lyrics I get annoyed.
#8
^you da best slipknot

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#9
All lyrics are not poetic.

All poetry is lyrical.

Hence the issue.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#10
Quote by Jet Penguin
All lyrics are not poetic.


why not?
i don't know why i feel so dry
#11
I'm trying to decipher the connection between the three pieces you posted. I cannot.

"Lyric" derives via Latin lyricus from the Greek λυρικός (lyrikós),[1] the adjectival form of lyre.[2] It first appeared in English in the mid-16th century in reference to the Earl of Surrey's translations of Petrarch and to his own sonnets.[3] Greek lyric poetry had been defined by the manner in which it was sung accompanied by the lyre or cithara,[4] as opposed to the chanted formal epics or the more passionate elegies accompanied by the flute. The personal nature of many of the verses of the Nine Lyric Poets led to the present sense of "lyric poetry" but the original Greek sense—words set to music—eventually led to its use as "lyrics", first attested in Stainer and Barrett's 1876 Dictionary of Musical Terms.[5] Stainer and Barrett used the word as a singular substantive: "Lyric, poetry or blank verse intended to be set to music and sung". By the 1930s, the present use of the plurale tantum "lyrics" had begun; it has been standard since the 1950s.[1] The singular form "lyric" still appears; its present use, however, is to refer to a specific phrase within a song's lyrics.


I"m surprised at you etymology nerd. It's not diminutive, it just means it's a poem that's sung (originally accompanied by a lyre).


I have several thoughts about this. First, I lovelovelovelovelovelovelovelovelove that you posted examples of pieces with text that no one can understand. The reason I love it is that it points out something important: hearing someone sing words is compelling and not just because you can understand what they're singing. It's why (losers) cry at Mozart arias even when they don't know what they're singing about.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzuM2XTnpSA&t=2m

Secondly, I used to be much like Xiaoxi. But then I started writing a lot for voice and was made to grapple with how to approach text. What I realized is that although text is something extramusical, it can also be very powerful and certainly can enhance the music (much like music can enhance the text). Done poorly can it take away from the music by being some sort of a distraction? Maybe. But poor music is poor music regardless of text and I don't think just text can make music bad. Also what the audience focuses on is entirely out of the hands of the artist, so it's pretty futile to look at it from that perspective. If that's the aspect of the music that's compelling to them, then that's what it is. But it is unequivocally a key part of the music.

This is where the point broadens out for me beyond just text. Text was my starting point for thinking about this (in the last year or so), but then I started thinking about other stuff that I'd rejected. What about graphical, visual and multimedia elements of pieces? Do they also take away from the purity of music? Aren't they just part of the music? To me art is experiential and any element that adds to the experience is part of the experience. At the end of the day does it matter whether you're compelled by text, a movie, the chance operations the composer used, an aspect of audience participation or the purest of musical elements? They're all aspects of the experience that is the piece of art and ultimately it's irrelevant to separate them because they're inextricably linked.

#wall
#wearethechange
#12
Quote by jazz_rock_feel

Secondly, I used to be much like Xiaoxi. But then I started writing a lot for voice and was made to grapple with how to approach text. What I realized is that although text is something extramusical, it can also be very powerful and certainly can enhance the music (much like music can enhance the text). Done poorly can it take away from the music by being some sort of a distraction? Maybe. But poor music is poor music regardless of text and I don't think just text can make music bad. Also what the audience focuses on is entirely out of the hands of the artist, so it's pretty futile to look at it from that perspective. If that's the aspect of the music that's compelling to them, then that's what it is. But it is unequivocally a key part of the music.

This is where the point broadens out for me beyond just text. Text was my starting point for thinking about this (in the last year or so), but then I started thinking about other stuff that I'd rejected. What about graphical, visual and multimedia elements of pieces? Do they also take away from the purity of music? Aren't they just part of the music? To me art is experiential and any element that adds to the experience is part of the experience. At the end of the day does it matter whether you're compelled by text, a movie, the chance operations the composer used, an aspect of audience participation or the purest of musical elements? They're all aspects of the experience that is the piece of art and ultimately it's irrelevant to separate them because they're inextricably linked.

Well I agree that it can enhance the music and the experience as a whole. And yes, just the act of singing, doesn't matter what, provides a strong evocation. But ultimately I'm drawn to the purity of absolute music as a personal preference. Of course I can't control that most people are plebs, but I can still be personally bitter about it. Look, let me have this goddamnit.

And yet I'm also constantly in situations where I have to embrace the exact opposite with film music which falls totally into what you allude to. Yes, it has its own merits of course. But just on a purely personal level I would not be that sad if all the music that ever existed containing lyrics as the perceived primary focal point vanished. I would be devastated if/when that happens to all the absolute music.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#13
I love when a wordsmith weaves an elaborate story or captures a complex thought, feeling, or emotion precisely with just a handful of words.

I also love music and the way that it expresses an intangible aspect of the human experience that is beyond language.

When the two come together in perfect compliment to each other it doesn't make the music better, or the text better. It's more like just two things that are both beautiful in their own right co-existing.

In regard to lyrics being a diminutive form of poetry - I can't stand this kind of elitist nonsense. Poetry has always had musical elements. Music/lyrics make poetry relevant to a wider audience. At least that's how I feel.
Si
#14
Quote by Xiaoxi
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

as much as i love lyrics, i kind of agree
#15
Quote by Xiaoxi
But just on a purely personal level I would not be that sad if all the music that ever existed containing lyrics as the perceived primary focal point vanished.

I would have to agree with this statement. There's way too many songs that de-emphasize the music, because they want the lyrics to be the forefront. The silly thing is, what usually happens is people "get into the beat" or whatever and don't even pay attention to the lyrics anyway.
#16
I have a lot of thoughts but won't say much because I'm on my phone for the next few weeks probably.

Anyway, I have split opinions. On the one hand, I think musk is music and lyrics aren't really a part of the music. On the other hand, making an analogy to film, obviously the cinematography of the film is the 'root' artform (if that makes sense), but we still value the script or the sound design quite highly in film. The reason is, people use films to tell a story( hence the importance of the script) or to create immersion (hence the importance of sound design). Music aims to accomplish those as well. I don't think it's fair to dismiss lyrics because 'they aren't music' or whatever, when the lyrics perpetuate the songwriter's intent.

Example, one or my favourite set of lyrics is 'Trapeze Swinger' by Iron & Wine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH3N_PHu6Aw

As is the case with almost all his songs, the focus is on telling stories. His songwriting could be considered bland by som (so many of his songs are just a C-G-F-C progression), but the point of his songs is to tell the story through the lyrics. The music (although I consider it to be masterful) isn't necessarily unique or complex or articulate, because to make it so wouldbe to draw attention away from the words and the story.

Obviously not every song is like that. Not all lyrics are great, just as not all screenwrites are great. But lyrics are absolutely a part of music.
superman is killing himself tonight
#17
I have said this earlier in some other thread but I think it is more interesting to listen to somebody singing some words than just "la la la". Lyrics are a good way of using vocals as an instrument. I don't care how other people listen to music. If lyrics are more important than the music part to them, I'm OK with it. People listen to music differently.

In the other thread I also talked about individual instruments. I'm sure most people will pay more attention to the instrument they play than the other instruments. If you are a guitarist, you kind of naturally focus on guitar parts. And I'm not saying people completely ignore all the other parts. Most singers pay more attention to the lyrics than instrumentalists and that's also kind of natural. Because I think lyrics are a pretty important part of the interpretation of the piece. I mean that when singers sing a song, they need to know what the song is about to sing it "right".

IMO not paying attention to the lyrics is the same as not paying attention to the bass guitar or the drum set or whatever. I don't really pay that much attention to the lyrics. Or it depends on the song. Some songs have lyrics that add something to the music. Some songs have lyrics that just ruin the song. But many times if I listen to the song for the first time, I don't pay close attention to the lyrics. Because I can't do it that well. I first need to know the musical part of the song to be able to focus on the lyrics.
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#18
Said it before and I'll say it again. The voice is just another instrument - they provide melody (or harmony). It can be used well, or not well. It can have too much emphassis, or not enough. It can make a song better, or worse. Lyrics add a human factor that people can relate too, but ultimately, the words are meaningless. The music is what I've come to listen too, and I'd really rather not hear you wax poetic about your last girlfriend.

"Meaningful" words can give you an excuse to ignore the piss-poor underlying music.

...Not to say I don't know the lyrics to many songs, however when I'm singing (badly), I sometimes don't even register the actual words coming out of my mouth.
Last edited by MapOfYourHead at Sep 29, 2014,
#19
I think it's silly that people take one side or the other on this. I guess you like what you like. But poetry is great. Music is great. Great together and great by themselves. To reduce it to "lyrics are for dumb people" is to essentially say literature (prose and poetry) is for dumb people. Sure, you don't need lyrics for music to be powerful. You don't need music in a film for it to be powerful either. Doesn't mean people who like good soundtracks are too dumb to recognize good drama on its own accord. Lyrics aren't a crutch. Song is just a form of music.

There are some artists where I appreciate their lyrics more than their music. Some where it's about even. And some where I care more about the music itself. And a whole lot of instrumental music. But lyrics can matter even when there isn't a vocalist.

In jazz, there's an old trope about knowing the lyrics to the standard you're playing. Particularly ballads. Lots of modern players dismiss this as just some old bullshit older guys say to be pithy. It's totally true though. I was in a group that played "Lush Life" in front of a panel of judges. I played the first part of the melody arco and then the band came in with the sax eventually taking the melody for the chorus.

We met with one judge in person after who asked me to sing "Lush Life" and then asked the sax player to sing the chorus. I knew the words and he didn't. But it was a rhetorical question because he already knew, based on phrasing, who knew the lyrics.
#DTWD
#20
Quote by Xiaoxi
In the most common form, I am so frustrated with people's focus on lyrics. It is offensive to me that lyrics is anything more than a passing consideration when people are judging music. Lyrics undermine the true abstract beauty and purism that is potential in all music. They can add another layer of expression, but too often they become the deciding factor, which is for idiots.

Music does not need lyrics or words. Music is a higher level of expression than verbal language could ever hope to achieve. Words and worldly associations weigh it down.



Are you serious?

Cause this is a discussion which ended in a fight with my girlfriend a few times.

I also feel lyrics is more of an add on and I find it hard to talk about this without people being offended.

Lyrics to me is not a direct link. If I see what would be considered the best lyrics in existence written in korean it does me emotionally **** all.

With music, you do not need to be able to interpret necessarily. I can play some melodies at some random african tribe, and I'm pretty sure they understand the melody, the groove, the choice consonance or dissonance.

Anecdotally; I have played with many musicians in Amsterdam at places where you can live jam, and the beauty is in that I can play with a Brazilian guy on bass, who I don't understand on a level of words, but have no problems with "communicating" musically.

I also believe that lyrics are a mere vehicle for the voice. How often do you hear people like a song, but ask about the lyrics and they don't know. Yet they can hum that catchy melody as if they wrote it themselves.

In reverse, if we let a monotone computer "sing" the lyrics, I would probably find it highly annoying and does not struck me on my emotions directly.


Anyways those are my views. I like some lyrics lines, mostly ones rooted in Irony or pseudo-ironic at the least or are descriptive of a fantasy tale or "life lesson" of some sort. I listen to a lot of dutch rap for example, and I am actually disappointed a few times, where I would want to share it with someone here, but I can't because it's all dutch.

I think lyrics has it's place and I like tonnes of songs with lyrics, but I think it's an add on and that I really like the non verbal communication in the form of the music/sound.

Tldr;
I like quite some lyrics, mostly rap or story like ones, but I think lyrics in music are overrated as well.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Sep 30, 2014,
#21
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Are you serious?

Cause this is a discussion which ended in a fight with my girlfriend a few times.




This has happened to me a few times, as well.

I think the preference comes from either being a musician or having a focus mostly away from the voice. For most music with lyrics, if the song does not have a focus on the lyrics they tend to drag. I really only like lyrics that are either so abstract every person can get something different or lyrics that are so poetic that they could be spoken-word poetry. Some rappers are really good at this as well (Kendrick Lamar and Hopsin off the top of my head)

This is for the latter example. There aren't many bands or lyrics that can captivate me quite like La Dispute does

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3r7cGKwThE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOa99rl3Kq0


And this is the latter. Cynic's lyrics tend to be extremely abstract, but very focused in the sense that they're spiritual and can pass very complex ideas with few words. It helps that the music is amazing too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw-6IIBXNSQ


If the lyrics are really bad, but the music is awesome... I can't help but feel it was a waste and it ends up ruining what COULD have been an amazing song (and is, instrumentally).