It’s been over a week since my last post, in part because I have been wrestling with an unruly piece that isn’t just a poem but also a song lyric. Yeah, the not-at-all lyric writer is composing a song. I suppose it makes sense, given my musical propensities, to begin understanding the poetics through music. I didn’t expect to have a new melody demanding words, or a demand for this new melody.
This post may be a bit disappointing today, because I can’t share the lyrics yet. First, they are not ready by any stretch. Second, they are being written for a particular purpose which can’t be revealed until it’s all ready to go (with final lyrics and lead sheets and translations and everything else involved). But I still felt like I needed to keep as close to my commitment to you as possible… and while I didn’t bring anything finished to show and tell, I can show you some of the work:
Here’s what I can share: the piece has a different meter in the chorus and the verses, but because it’s set to music the meter can’t wander off lonely as a cloud. And because it’s meant to be sung by a group of people, it needs to have some external (end of the line) rhyme scheme. And… because each line is fairly short (126.96.36.199 in the chorus, 188.8.131.52 in the verses), economy of language is important. So is, as I am realizing, syllabic emphasis. “Respond” sings differently than “answer” (re-SPOND v. ANS-wer) and “dignity” takes up a lot more space than “free”… but shouldn’t be replaced by “liberty”…. and “worthy” has the wrong emphasis…. and then I wonder if this whole lyric is nothing but trite platitudes and meaningless drivel.
Now I am fully aware that the actual professional songwriter I’m working with isn’t going to let this out if it’s not good, so I may be entertaining a little self-deprecating hyperbole. But my fears are leading me to work diligently to create a lyric that inspires and expresses that which needs expressing.
In a strict meter. With a demand for strong rhyme. And expansive, inclusive language.
I’m feeling like I’m in the middle of a ‘woyaya’ moment with this – I will get there, heaven knows HOW I will get there, but I know I will. But the truth is….
Poetry’s hard, y’all.