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ENG581: Poetry and Songwriting

The marriage of poetry and song is one dating back to ancient times.

The marriage of poetry and song is one dating back to ancient times. From the Greek lyric poets to the poets of the English Renaissance, into our own era with the 1960's Folk Revival, blues, jazz, performance poetry, rap and hip-hop, music has partnered with poetry to create singular and memorable effects. This course will explore how the presence of music alters and enhances what's being said at the lyric level (and vice versa). What happens to a poem when it's set to music? In composing, what comes first (if either), the lyrics or the tune? And what are the features that make song lyrics "poetic"? We'll explore these and other questions as we read (and listen to) a wide variety of poets and songwriters, ultimately trying our own hands at composing pieces that marry poetry and song. At term's end, students will gather their analytical and creative compositions into a final portfolio and may present a concert to the academy community. The ability to play a musical instrument or read music is not required for this course.