feedback wanted - Shakespeare workshop

Responses to the acting-instruction page.
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feedback wanted - Shakespeare workshop

Post by aruffo » Sun May 17, 2009 8:50 am

I've finally found some motivation to get rolling on a new writing project: how to analyze and perform Shakespeare. My goal is to show anyone how to pick up Shakespearean poetry and know precisely what to do with it-- that is, a person who reads this won't just walk away with some generic ideas about poetry and a pretentious clutch of vocabulary words, but will learn and understand exactly how to dissect and perform the scripts.

Because I want to make sure it's accessible and meaningful to anyone-- not just people who already know something about acting, or about poetry, or about Shakespeare-- I'd appreciate any comments from anybody. If any of it is not crystal clear and perfectly sensible I'd very much like to know.


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Post by RockofStrength » Tue May 18, 2010 1:41 pm

Interesting subject Chris. I read your whole paper and thought it was quite well done. I liked your point about stress being about length instead of volume, especially because it was hammered home with the accompanying sound files. I think the more sound files you can include throughout the paper, the better, because they worked so well in this case.

After reading your paper, I began thinking about poetry in general. I sense a strong link between poetic rhythm and musical rhythm. Take, for example, the quintessential poem "Roses are Red" (the equivalent to "Twinkle" in music)...

Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Sugar is sweet,
and so are you.

It has a musical rhythm to it:
Trip-a- let 2,
Ro-ses are red,

Trip-a- let 2.
vio-lets are blue.

Trip-a-let (Trip-a)-let |1 and 2.
Su-gar is sweet and |so are you.

Like music, lines of poetry can be organized into higher levels of organization, and for different qualities. The "Roses are Red" poem has 3 rhythmic entites or chunks, and 1 rhyming entity (blue-you). Each larger entity is divided equally between an off-beat and a beat.

Starting poetic analysis at the level of Shakespeare's sonnets is sort of like starting music by learning Bach songs, although the iambic pentameter framework does simplify things quite a bit. Mother Goose is probably a good starting point for analysis.

I did "Humpty Dumpty" also. It's the same rhythm throughout...

(Trip-a)-let (trip-a)-let trip-a-let 4, (same rhythm for every line)
Hump-ty Dump-ty sat on a wall.
Hump-ty Dump-ty had a great fall.
All the king's hor-ses and all the king's men,
Could-n't put Hump-ty to-ge-ther a-gain.

So what is different between children's poems and children's songs? It's the way that pitch works. Music puts the pitch into distinct simplified patterns, while poetic pitch is more about contour. Also, many syllables at the end of lines are unpitched and falling. However, in the line 'Roses are red', I do hear an arpeggiated triad 1/3/5\1 when I say it, and I suppose a full pitch analysis of the 'ideal' reading could be attempted.

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Post by RockofStrength » Tue May 18, 2010 2:31 pm

EDIT: Actually 'roses are red' sounds like do / mi / so \ ti.

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