Teleri (telerib) wrote,

AS musical composition

One of the problems in setting Anglo-Saxon poetry to music is the irregular meter. The stresses can fall in one of six patterns (see Section 4) in either half-line. My first thoughts on the matter were that the music would have to be through-composed, either ahead of time or on the spot. (Benjamin Bagby improvises his Beowulf music.)

The ancient and venerable folkie habit of subdividing notes to accommodate slight irregularities in meter might be of service here. (That's when the quarter note that was the pickup for "The" in the first verse becomes two eight notes for "On a" in the second verse.)

You could write a phrase in 4/4, corresponding to line type A (/ u / u). Let's say 4 quarter notes for simplicity, 1-2-3-4.

Type B (u / u /): Steal a pickup from the previous line, hold the last stressed syllable over notes 3-4.

Type C (u / / u): Steal a pickup, hold the first stressed syllable over notes 1-2.

Type Da (/ / \ u): Hold the first stressed syllable over notes 1-2, subdivide note 3 for the second and third syllables

Type Db (/ / u \): Hold the first stressed syllable over notes 1-2, subdivide note 4 for the third and fourth syllables

Type E (/ u u /): Subdivide note 2 for syllables 2 and 3, hold last syllable over notes 3-4

I wonder if this would work, or if it would just destroy the rhythmic qualities of the poetry. I will have to give it a try...
Tags: music, sca
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