The Art of Syntax

I began Ellen Bryant Voigt’s The Art of Syntax last night, and though I haven’t yet attempted to apply what I have learned to my readings of poems, I’ve actually found that her translation of some of Robert Jourdain’s thoughts on music (in Music, The Brain, and Ecstasy) had a deep, profound effect on the way I was listening to music this morning.  As someone who has never had any real musical talent, I have always been deeply envious of musical craftsmen and people who have an intimate and seemingly natural (or unrehearsed, though I know that is not the case) gift for the language of music.  Seeing musical terms translated into the terms I understand– or rather, the terms I am only beginning to understand– finally gave me enough context to map the way my brain works with language to the way I am able to hear music.

Obviously, I have more work to do, much more work to do.  I’ve got to finish the book, and I’ve got a lot more listening to do– both to the music collection with which I have a new tool to work, and to a million and a half poems.  But it was an exciting morning, because I was hearing new things in familiar songs, or rather, recontextualizing things I’ve already heard many times before.

Next up today: Beatles Rock Band (and how participation also changes the way one hears the familiar) and my first read of student poems.