Metrical Multistability as a Melopoetic Method

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Lea Wierød Borčak - Foredragsholder

Because both words and music can be metrical, their merging in song often juxtaposes two autonomous metrical structures that may or may not match. Melopoetic metrical mismatch in songs comes across as a flaw – most often in a ‘logocentric’ favor: if poetic accents are displaced in a song, melody is guilty of having misrepresented words’ prosodic distinctiveness. In this paper I will argue that the metrical structure of both melody and words may be ‘multistable’ – that is, open to more than one interpretation without one of them being ‘correct’. I shall suggest that in the case of metrical multistability in one of the two media that make up a song (words and music), their alignment in song is likely to influence the recipient’s choice of metrical interpretation. This results in an emergent intermedial combination in which the joined media sets inerasable imprints onto each other.

The term multistability of metrical interpretation was introduced in 2006 by the empirical musicologist Bruno H. Repp as a solely musical concept referring to the well-known possibility of one melody being interpreted metrically differently by different recipients. The process of inferring musical meter from heard material (beat induction) is thus a highly subjective act. It is, then, the hypothesis of the present paper that this idea, developed within a mono-disciplinary field, can be fruitfully applied to the field of poetic metrics as well, and thus become an interdisciplinary and intermedial analytical tool. Using examples of songs from differing genres, I shall demonstrate how meters in both words and melody may be equivocal in themselves but when joined, the melopoetic fusion favors one of the possible forms. A decisive touchstone in this argument is the inquiry into the phenomenon of one melody being affiliated with multiple lyrics, and vice versa. If, for example, the same melody seems unproblematically to fit texts with seemingly contradictory meters, this suggests the presence of a metrically multistable melopoetic construction.
15 nov. 2014

Begivenhed (Konference)

TitelEmerging Paradigms
Dato13/11/201415/11/2014
AfholdelsesstedKasernen
ByAarhus
LandDanmark

ID: 126962815