Composer as a Poet

I apologize in advance for how personal this blog post is! I had no Internet access, so I couldn’t find any Romantic music or other media to include in my post, and I got a little carsick from reading The Prelude, so please bear with me in this very personal blog post!

Today, I got in a car with three strangers on a road trip to the Democratic National Convention. It was a very bizarre situation; it was a seven-hour drive to the convention center, and I was planning on falling asleep in the car, so I wouldn’t have to engage in the potentially awkward introductory conversations. Instead, within the first few hours, I realized that the people I was driving with were much more different than what I had anticipated.

The driver was a photographer, so I simply listened at first about photography without really offering any insights of my own. The person in the passenger seat then began to talk about how photography was really simply a perception of an event. The event itself was never truly captured with the photograph; it is just a physical and visual representation of what happened. Instead of being in the moment, you chose to take a photograph. The experience of what are you doing or where you are or who you are with is lost because you are now more focused on a camera.

Regardless of whether or not you believe this, I think it can help give some interesting insight into the idea of Romanticism, the apocalypse, and Romantic music. When you listen to a piece of music, some people focus on the lyrics, some people dance, and others just listen. Romantic music is provocative in the sense that it is odd; there are jarring moments, comfortable moments, and moments that just make you drift off to sleep.

What does it mean that the apocalypse is centered in Romantic music? If music that we hear is an auditory representation of what the composer is experiencing and feeling, what does it mean that the apocalypse can be discovered within the music?

Wordsworth would have believed that the development or the experience of the unknown, provocative, apocalyptic moments within Romantic music occurred because the composer was a poet who could prophesize what would occur.

But the way in which the person in the passenger’s seat driving with me to the Convention did not feel as if she could grasp the moment or the experience from a photograph, I do not feel as if I can fully understand the Romantic music. I can sense where the apocalypse is in the music, but I can’t be it or see it. I am not the poet in this situation. We try so hard to categorize our thoughts, feelings, and experiences because it makes us feel better, and more complete. The composer, as a poet, is trying to encourage the listener to feel whatever the composer is feeling. The success comes from how we feel as we listen to the music, and how this reflects our moods.


~ by dianawitless on September 6, 2012.

One Response to “Composer as a Poet”

  1. I really enjor reading your personal, Wordsworthian reflections on your life experiences; I only wish you could have related it specifically to moments in Wordsworth’s poetry where he too ponders art’s capacity to capture–or not capture–nature’s reality. In books 3-5 he mentions several times the effect of art, books, and song on his experience and knowledge of the world. And please don’t apologize for being overly personal–that’s what blogs are for. Make Wordsworth happy!

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