Poetry in Music

Vicki Tucker CourtneyBy Vicki Tucker Courtney

Poetry is defined as the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts. But poetry can also be sung! The initial task for both of my Contemporary Art Songs collections was to find poems with topics that were relative—the language understandable and not too archaic—and that could, of course, be captured in song.

Musically, my goal was to provide a variety of styles and vocal ranges. But it was the subject matter that inspired the melodies. Subjects range from morning to the stars of night, from nature to the seasons, from birthdays to holidays, from the world of dreams to the reality of love, and, of course, music. But it was also the subject matter that inspired the passions of these melodies, ranging from excitement and joy to disappointment and distress. As a pianist, I found it very satisfying to craft a memorable melody and an interesting accompaniment for each.

Additionally, the men’s songs were written by male poets and the women’s songs were written by female poets. Poems that were written as early as the eighteenth century by well-known and some not so well-known poets are included. I found their backgrounds fascinating and would encourage the singer to read about them in the short biographies provided in each collection.

Enjoy!

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