I recently wrote an essay about the use of poetry in advertising. In it I used W H Auden’s poetry definition ”memorable speech” as a sort of building block for the discussion.
And it got me thinking, what happens if we transfer this to music? Is memorability a sign of quality, something that transforms the mundane into art? I find this interesting in contrast to someone like Brian Eno whose ambient works (airports etc) strived to create sonic atmospheres that don’t call our attention. In that regard, instantly forgettable - as a different kind of quality?
Auden also stressed the need for “speech”, audibly read poetry. And I believe it’s been often argued that the relation to body and breath is something important, in how we perceive and create melodic phrases.
So, I figured it might be something to discuss, or to air different views on. There might be better questions around this, but just a few to get the discussion started:
Is memorability something you strive for in your art?
Is relation to human breath/rhythm needed in music?
= = = For reference = = =
W H Auden, introduction to the book The Poet’s Tongue (1935) (My bold)
” Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is still the best: ’memorable speech.’ That is to say, it must move our emotions, or excite our intellect, for only that which is moving or exciting is memorable, and the stimulus is the audible spoken word and cadence, to which in all its power of suggestion and incantation we must surrender, as we do when talking to an intimate friend. We must, in fact, make exactly the opposite kind of mental effort to that we make in grasping other verbal uses, for in the case of the latter the aura of suggestion round every word through which, like the atom radiating lines of force through the whole of space and time, it becomes ultimately a sign for the sum of all possible meanings, must be rigorously suppressed and its meaning confined to a single dictionary one. For this reason the exposition of a scientific theory is easier to read than to hear. No poetry, on the other hand, which when mastered is not better heard than read is good poetry.
All speech has rhythm, which is the result of the combination of the alternating periods of effort and rest necessary to all living things…”
(transcript found on the Internet so I’m hoping it is correct)