Video link (subscribers must click through).
Yeah, I know it’s the wrong time of year, but the music made me do it — that, or else I have what Wallace Stevens called a mind of winter. Encouraged in part by a post by Lucas Green — “poets, poems, and videotape” — in which he argued that poetry is fundamentally an oral art, I wanted to see what would happen if I put more thought into the soundtrack, mixing voice and music in Adobe Audition first, then cutting and splicing video clips to fit. I’d been searching the free music site Jamendo.com for something to use in a different poem when I happened across the Sound Sculptures of one daRem, and immediately thought of my old poem “Therapy.” The composer describes her/his five tracks as “Experimental ambient music with a dark, but calm touch. Originally written for use as music for art exhibitions of my father.”
The extended version of “Therapy” includes a prose introduction, haibun-style, but when pondering video possibilties this morning, I couldn’t see how to make that work. Maybe that’s a failure of imagination, and I’m simply too much of a neophyte to know how to switch registers like that and make it work.
I appreciate the dissenting views on the value of music in the comments to my previous video, and I’ll be curious to see if my inclusion of a piece of experimental electronica this time also meets with opposition. My basic goal with poetry soundtracks, I think, is to find pieces that fit the mood I was in when I wrote the poem. One problem, though, is that music with a regular rhythm may conflict with the rhythms in the poem. So it probably makes more sense to search avant-garde classical, electronic, and ambient music — or less-composed soundscapes, if I can find them. (I’d need a dish microphone to gather my own ambient audio, so that probably won’t happen for a while.)
I’m not sure about the effect I gave my voice here. I think that could be better. But the main thing I learned today was that fairly lengthy spaces between stanzas or sentences can work so long as music is present.
Which is good, because I think such spaces are really important to aural comprehension: the main problem most people have with poetry readings is that the words go by too damn fast, at least with poems composed for the page. Modern lyrical poetry is nothing if not dense with layered meanings and images. Slam poetry works, when it works, because it’s not terribly subtle, and because it tends to repeat phrases and ideas, in common with almost all truly oral poetry. But more than once I’ve had the experience of buying a book or chapbook by an outstanding live performer only to find that the energy didn’t translate to the page. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been disappointed by lackluster readings from poets whose written work I love. So now I’m wondering: are Lucas and I crazy to dream of a hybrid between the two?
By the way, I apologize to readers on dial-up. I am a learn-by-doing kind of guy and videography is what I want to learn right now, so I’m afraid you’ll probably be seeing a lot more of this kind of blog post.