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What Is Music? Lesson For Music English Advanced Grammar


What Is Music? Lesson For Music English Advanced Grammar

(1) Music :

The first essential of poetry is vocal music. The poet chooses words of beautiful sound instinctively and arranges them that the words near each other will harmonize in sound, to bring forth what may be called “word music.” And she varies this music to suit the subject so that the sound of the lines helps clarify their meaning. But vocal music relies not only on the musical sound of the words but also on rhythm. It is the combination of sweet-sounding and lovely rhythms with names that give us the music of poetry.

 Here are two verses from Dryden’s “Song for St. Cecilia’s Day”. The rapid rhythm of the first verse well expresses the excitement caused by the war alarm

given by trumpet and drum; the slow and quiet rhythm of the second verse suits the soft and tender music of the flute and the lute.

“The trumpet’s loud clangour

Excites us to arms,

With shrill notes of anger,

(a) Vowel and Consonant Sounds :

Words with long open vowels and soft consonants (like 1, ra, n, v, w, z, etc.) produce sweet, soft, soothing music in these lines :

“To dream and dream, like yonder amber light.” — (Tennyson)

“The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.” — (Keats)

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” — (Keats)

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“Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn.” — (Keats)

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(b) Rhyme :

Words rhyming together give a musical chime of sound, and this is one reason why

rhyme is so much used in poetry. Listen to the chime of the rhymes in this verse :-

“Strew on her roses, roses,

And never a spray of yew, In quiet she poses:

Ah ! would that I did too !” (M. Arnold)

Internal rhymes (i.e., rhymes written within a line and not merely at the ends of lines)

also add music (and a slight apparent acceleration of the rhythm) to a verse; e.g.,

“The ice was here; the ice was there,

The ice was all around;

It cracked and growled, and roared and howled.

Like noises in a swound !” (Coleridge)

(c) Alliteration :

This is another figure of speech used in poetry. It brings together words that begin with

the same consonant (or vowel) sound. For Example:-

“The fair breeze below, the white foam flew

The furrow followed free.” — (Coleridge)

Here the/sounds give the impression of wind blowing.

“I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore.” — (Yeats)

Here the I sounds represent the liquid sounds of little waves, and the sand sh sounds help.

A reeling road, a rolling road that rambles round the shire.” — (Chesterton)

The r sounds help the description of a wandering road.

(d) Onomatopoeia :

This is the name given to the figure of speech

by which the sound of the words is made to suggest or echo the sense.

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There are many onomatopoeic words in English; e.g., roar, bang, crash,

clap, bump, bubble, screen, pop, moan, hum, murmur, etc. When they

are talking of sounds, poets will use words to represent those sounds if

they can. For instance:-

“The moan of doves in immemorial elms

And murmuring of innumerable bees.” — (Tennyson)

Can you not hear the cooing of the doves and the humming of the bees? How is it done?

Some of the words are onomatopoeic, e.g., moan, murmuring; in others, the soft vowels,

and above all, they and n sounds, give a humming murmur, e.g., immemorial,


(e) Repetition :

Repetition of words and phrases not only presents to emphasize the meaning but often also

to increase the musical effect of a poem.

“The woods decay, the woods decay, and fall.” — (Tennyson)

“What hope of answer, or redress?

Behind the veil, behind the veil. ” — (Tennyson)

“A weary time! A weary time!

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