Poetry, Music, and the Sounds of the Twentieth Century
The twentieth century saw the rise and refinement of commercial sound recording, which gave rise to a proliferation of sound-based artistry. This course will examine how music and poetry influenced each other throughout the century. We’ll listen to blues and jazz poems alongside their namesakes, look at the influence of the Dadaists and Italian Futurists on the New Wave music of the 1980s, and discuss various songs modeled on poems and vice versa. Along the way, we will listen to other key recordings that overlap with the poetry and music: sound art, sermon recordings, political radio speeches, and comedy monologues, for example. Our aim will be to trace a series of intersecting aesthetic lineages that lead into the current day. Key works will include poems by T.S. Eliot, James Weldon Johnson, Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Amiri Baraka, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bernstein, the Russian and Italian Futurists, Dadaists, and the Beats. We’ll encounter many genres of music, including: Tin Pan Alley musicals, ragtime, blues, doo wop, reggae, punk, pop, hip-hop, and more. In addition, you will learn some audio editing skills and will have the opportunity to make your own poetry-music remix. No experience with poetry or sound editing is required, only an interest in experimenting with sound.