Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jazz Improvisation and Form Poetry

Recently, I saw this video of Charlie Rose and Billy Taylor discussing improvisation, which had been posted on Facebook by the American Jazz Museum. Taylor's comments made me think of poetry forms and how they may be used to enhance creativity.
Taylor states that preparation is necessary in order to improvise.  The preparation he talks about is  knowledge of the craft of creating music.
First, the musician must have an understanding of the song as it was written. How did the composer put it together?
Additionally, the musician must have a knowledge of the three elements, rhythm, harmony and melody, that may be improvised. How does changing the rhythm change the mood created by the music? What goes into creating a new melody?
Poetry forms teach poets knowledge of the craft. They deal with elements such as overall length, line length, rhythm and repetition. For example, if you try a few forms that have a small line count; how do you distill your idea to stay within the limit? Doesn't this exercise help you learn to tighten up your writing when you go back to free verse?
Forms show me what comes easily to me and what is hard for me.  They give me a way to develop an element if I think it adds to my writing.
For both the jazz musician and the poet, it's all about conveying a feeling. Working with forms helps poets develop more ways to do this.
Do you think working with poetry forms enhances your skills?  Do you write in forms on a regular basis?
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  1. Oh gosh, I can't hear music at all. I mean I can hear it, but can't understand why it sometimes sounds wrong, don't recognise off pitch singing, can't replicate a beat... (sigh) On the positive, my children are very musical, so I guess I've made up for my appalling tin ear by sending them out into the Same with poetry. Sometimes I push myself to different poetic structures, but it never satisfies me as much as the free form type I tend to write. Oh well, maybe I make up for that by drawing on every surface possible. :) Hugs Michelle. :)

    1. I was in a store last night looking at pre-printed papers. They had some that looked like sheet music and I thought of your lovely drawings right away! For me, the Billy Taylor piece brought out the idea of learning how to break with form by learning about form. Hugs to you, Veronica.