Month: August 2017

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Words and Music in Composition

by Jenny Berkel

When I was 21, I wrote my first song in a giant and nearly empty apartment in downtown Winnipeg. I grew up singing and writing poetry, but it wasn’t until I was alone in that echoing apartment that I realized I could do both things at once. Since that realization, I have spent countless hours hunched over a desk with a guitar and a pen.

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Theses on the Criticism of Popular Songwriting

by David Janzen and Andy Verboom

An emphasis on form produces a discourse specific to (and adequate to) the object—whether the object is a poem, a lyrical song, or an instrumental song.

We agree with Daniel Renton’s claim, in the first piece in this Town Crier series, that “song writing warrants its own discourse.” But we think that claim proceeds to beg the question: “As a synthesis of words and music,

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Not Quite the Same Boy He Used to Be

by Joseph Andre Thomas

Daniel Renton writes in his essay opening this series that, in a song, “music and words are always irreducibly intertwined in some way.” This relationship is fascinating for two major reasons. One, that a piece of music, stripped of words, is still a song; a series of words, stripped of music, is generally not considered a song.

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Major and Minor Points

by Andrew Brooks

Bob Dylan’s [in]famous Nobel Prize for Literature started off a debate—and not an especially acrimonious one—between those who felt the award was well-deserved and those who felt it was an unacceptable usurpation of literary turf by an artist from outside the tribe. People got exercised for a while and then everybody went back to what they were doing.

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A Primer on Musicology for Literary Critics

by Ed Smith

During my formal musical education, I experienced an epiphany about how music works. It happened when one of my professors said that all music is nothing more than tension and release, sound waves (or lack thereof) that depict conflict and resolution. Boiling down music theory to this binary view is, of course, not sufficient for studying the nuts and bolts of composition and performance,

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Not Strictly Platonic: Five Dialogues on the Unity of Poetry and Music

by Jade Wallace

I: Youthful Bro

YOUTHFUL BRO (YB) is on a date with a woman, who considers herself a CASUAL ACQUAINTANCE (CA) of his.

YB: I know what poetry and music are and I understand the difference between them. I have an interdisciplinary cultural studies degree.

CA: What is poetry then?

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Defiance in Cadence: Analyzing T.I.’s “I Believe”

by E Martin Nolan

Notes on this analysis: There are no official lyrics for this song, so the lyrics quoted below are based on those compiled by, as well as my own transcriptions (there are some discrepancies). I have also been unable to identify the singer on the track,

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Just as a Troubadour Was: Interview with Marc di Saverio

by Daniel Kincade Renton

This short interview contains my determined attempts to pin down Marc di Saverio on the definition of music in poetry. Notice how the poet’s interests return to the importance and effects of musicality whereas mine obsess over comparison and bifurcation. This tension reminds us that, for the artist whose concern is the spirited life of his work,

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Toward a Hybrid Criticism: This is Not a Poem

by Daniel Kincade Renton

In the late ’60s, an idiosyncratic country singer named Townes Van Zandt wrote and recorded a song called “I’ll Be Here in the Morning.”

The song contains a simple message: the singer feels compelled to hit the road but promises not to leave their lover for at least one more night.

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Can Not Lit II

by Jacqueline Valencia

In part two of her interviews with Canadian writers of colour on their struggles with CanLit, Jacqueline Valencia talks to Halli Villegas and Sheniz Janmohamed. Part one can be found here.


Halli Villegas

The biggest problem I had with CanLit going in was my own naivety.