The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138169 Message #3163650
Posted By: Charley Noble
01-Jun-11 - 07:56 AM
Thread Name: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
Subject: RE: John Masefield-Songs from Poems (PermaThread)
Setting poems to tunes is more than a mechanical process. One can shoehorn a poem into practically any tune but it won't necessarily be a good fit.
I like to read the poem over and over and see if there is some kind of rhythm which suggests a tune. For example with regard to C. Fox Smith, many of her poems fit nicely into "Sweet Betsy from Pike/The Old Orange Flute" which isn't exactly a good solution to the puzzle either.
Another criteria has to do with the setting of the poem; if it is traditional nautical setting with sailors, a traditional shanty or forebitter tune scores high.
If it is more of a nautical art song, then there is no clear solution. "Cargoes" is more of an art song to my mind, while "A Night at Dago Tom's" is more of a forebitter or foscle song.
Since many sea shanties or forebitters were inspired by the popular songs of the day, the minstrel or music hall songs, those tunes are also fair game. The broadside ballads are also something to mine.
By the time I get finished with reworking a tune, it sounds vaguely familiar rather than identical to what I began with.