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Poetry 'performance' - a question


Camy

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I'm trying to read and record some of my poetry.

The recording part I don't have a problem with ... it's the reading, and I guess it would be the same for prose too.

Do I perform it or just read it?

As listeners, do you prefer a straight approach or a thespian one? or does it depend on the poem?

Gah, 'tis causing brain ache.

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Camy

My opinion: Performance or not.

These days anything goes.

It is usually considered that the author of a poem is "his own worst enemy" if he tries to read it for others.

The reality seems to be that some poets can do it quite well and some are ... errr, not up to it, to be polite.

One of the things that has pleasantly surprised me on AwesomeDude Radio is the high standard of the voices of people who have made promos.

However, even if the poet does a "read" it is still technically a performance, just one without embellishment if you like. A hundred years or so ago this was called a "recitation" if done from memory or a "reading" if it was read from the written word.

There were people who were employed to perform poetry with great flair and style. They were usually actors or social poseurs.

With some notable exceptions, radio announcers and singers as a rule do not make good choices for thespian activities of the voice as they do not usually have an understanding of the required "dramatic " motivation or are unable to choose the appropriate meter for delivering the verse. Radio voices requires a different set of motivations and rules from most thespian activities. (Imagine if you like if the radio personality announced the time as if he were Richard the third: "NOW, is the eighth hour after the midnight of our discontent." etc,. Similarly advertising the specials at Wal-Mart is really not good voice preparation for singing a Puccini Opera. :w00t: ...)

And therein lay the problem. Choosing the appropriate form of delivery.

Basically you have to listen to the finished recording and judge whether it sounds corny or exaggerated.

If it does then do a straight reading, unless that is your intention.

Never take any notice of what you think your audience wants or how they like to hear it.

If you want it "over-the -top" or mellow or without emotion, then that is how it should be.

Find your own voice for each poem. How did you hear it in your own mind?

There is a natural rhythm in English that can be ignored or exaggerated, and both or either can be correct, local accents not-with-standing.

Even rap is shifting to a more harmonious delivery in some recent performances I have heard. Very interesting.

Speaking plainly and letting the words speak for themselves usually fails to get the message across.

Having said all that it is somewhat surprising and wonderful when someone gets up and recites a work in a way that ignores what the author wanted and yet still manages to communicate the intention of the verse to the audience. These "interpretations" can also be deplorable or of "fresh inspiration."

It is a good idea to rehearse for someone whom you will not mind telling you what is not quite right with your delivery.

On the other-hand watch out for praise from those who have a strong attraction to seeing you draped in your bed linen. :icon13::w00t:

As far as our wonderful community here at AwesomDude is concerned, I think we will just be pleased to hear a voice that goes with the poet whose poems we have come to love and admire. :w00t:

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Guest Gabriel Duncan

i put my piece of paper down in front of me, or on the windoc on the screen.

when I read something that has a lot of life in it:

i need to focus on the sounds that were inside of my head when i was writing

more often than not, those sounds are still there

so when I read it, i read in that voice

i figured out that, if i'm going to read it in a voice

the voice needs to be consistent,

just like with anything,

i can't drop the voice half way through,

then pick it up back at the end

and expect to get praised for it.

unless that effect was meant to be

in that case,

i expect my audience to be confused

don't get all crazy about this,

every syllable needs a meaning

whether the poem is going to be read with gusto or not

people are going to put your poem under a microscope

and myopic morphic analysis is far more enjoyable

when every syllable and line is chalked so full of meaning

that your words lead and your voice defines.

those are my thoughts.

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Camy,

One of the reasons I have not recorded a promo for AD radio, my speaking voice sounds horrible. It is

the same reason why I refuse to read my work aloud. I like to say I'm a writer not a performer, but my

ego says something different. If I could record something that sounds good, you bet your tail feathers

I would be recording everything. :w00t:

As for your own performance, I think Des hit the nail on the head. In my experience, every poet/performer

has his own style and voice. Someone like Gabe, who I assume performs often, probably writes his

pieces with the intention of performing, so the piece flows from conception. As well as his delivery reflects

the "built in" rhyme and meter.

Then you have someone like TR, listen to his piece called The Midnight Chime, he performs this piece with

an actors flare. Lowering and raising his voice as the emotion dictates, I found myself caught up in this

vampire tale. The delivery came off quite sexy and profoundly sad, my opinion.

With your background in music, I should think performing a written piece would be more challenging. Take someone like Jim Morrison, I found his voice to be quite dramatic. If you listen to "The End" or "People Are Strange", his voice carries so much emotion and passion. Yet when I heard him read selected pieces of The Lizard, I found his delivery to be quite mundane.

When I sit down to write, I'm thinking in written terms. From the beginning, I tend to write poetry that should be read, not performed. With the exception of a few pieces, I still loved what you did with HRSA. :icon13:

I guess you should look through your inventory of poetry, and try to find a piece that best suits a spoken performance. Then figure out what you are trying to say and the "way" to say it should flow naturally from

your emotions. Remember, when you wrote the piece in the first place, you were trying to convey some sort of emotion to the reader. Use that feeling and the material should find its own voice.

Anyhoo, I can't wait to hear what you decide to perform, I'm sure it will blow my lucky socks off. :w00t:

Jason

PS: Just heard Camy perfrom Courage, that's two I've heard so far. Can I say, sexy? :w00t:

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Then you have someone like TR, listen to his piece called The Midnight Chime, he performs this piece with

an actors flare. Lowering and raising his voice as the emotion dictates, I found myself caught up in this

vampire tale. The delivery came off quite sexy and profoundly sad, my opinion.

Thank you, Jason, but I was doing exactly what Gabriel describes, I was 'reading' (or performing, or interpreting or whatever you want to call it) The Midnight Chime exactly as I had heard it while writing. Generally, I can still hear that cadence in a finished piece and, yes, I suppose I am injecting emotion into it, too, but emotions were there, audible in my head, when I wrote it, trust me.

I think Des is wrong, though, in saying that radio announcers, etc, can't do other types of voice performance. I think the same person is quite capable of being good at all of those types of vocal performance, though not necessarily of course, and they'd just be switching from different 'modes' when doing one type or the other.

I 'speak' differently when giving a political speech to an audience than I do when reading poetry, for instance, and differently still when doing news, promos or updates for ADR. I don't sing, or not where anyone but my cats can hear me, but I'd do that differently, too, if I knew how. Stage acting is another kind of 'voice performance', too, as are other things I've done, like debating or teaching a class. You don't use the same voice for different things. The Dude is a lifelong, professional radio guy but his 'radio voice' is not his speaking voice, nor is it his singing voice, which is also quite excellent.

Like Gabe, I enjoy reading (or call it whatever) my own work or the work of others; I enjoy making the listener hear the poem/story as I hear it in my head. I plan to record a lot more of my own stuff and might be willing to read others' work if they feel themselves unable to do so for use on the AD audio page. PM me if you're interested. I have a lot of other TR stuff recorded, a few of which are up at AD, others should follow (including On The Lonely Ocean, recorded yesterday).

That said, however, most people are terrified of reading and speaking and this should not be pushed onto anyone unwilling. As a longtime speech and drama teacher, I can promise you that everyone won't do well and many people will be upset at even the appearance of pressure to perform. People who want to read their stuff, go to it, if you don't, don't sweat it, just enjoy what others offer here at AD.

And thanks for the compliments! :w00t:

Kisses...

:icon13: TR, the Ham Rabbit

PS. Ahem, The Midnight Chime isn't a vampire tale in that no one drinks blood, though it is a gothic style horror story with more than a bit of the erotic thrown in. I think he's more of a ghost than the undead, though he is the undead dead, at least for the hour before midnight.

i put my piece of paper down in front of me, or on the windoc on the screen.

when I read something that has a lot of life in it:

i need to focus on the sounds that were inside of my head when i was writing

more often than not, those sounds are still there

so when I read it, i read in that voice

i figured out that, if i'm going to read it in a voice

the voice needs to be consistent,

just like with anything,

i can't drop the voice half way through,

then pick it up back at the end

and expect to get praised for it.

unless that effect was meant to be

in that case,

i expect my audience to be confused

don't get all crazy about this,

every syllable needs a meaning

whether the poem is going to be read with gusto or not

people are going to put your poem under a microscope

and myopic morphic analysis is far more enjoyable

when every syllable and line is chalked so full of meaning

that your words lead and your voice defines.

those are my thoughts.

Maybe you should record this piece as a sort of how-to for reading and recording poetry?

Kisses...

TR :w00t:

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PS. Ahem, The Midnight Chime isn't a vampire tale in that no one drinks blood, though it is a gothic style horror story with more than a bit of the erotic thrown in. I think he's more of a ghost than the undead, though he is the undead dead, at least for the hour before midnight.

TR,

I refuse to believe Midnight Chime isn't a vampire tale. :icon13:

*walks away into the night whistling blissfully ignorant*

Jason

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*TR* wrote:

I think Des is wrong, though, in saying that radio announcers, etc, can't do other types of voice performance. I think the same person is quite capable of being good at all of those types of vocal performance, though not necessarily of course, and they'd just be switching from different 'modes' when doing one type or the other

Not to put too fine a point on it, I did not say they "can't do other types of voice performance...". I did say "With some notable exceptions, radio announcers and singers as a rule do not make good choices for thespian activities of the voice as they do not usually have an understanding of the required "dramatic " motivation..."

Certainly in Australia, my experience as a drama teacher is that radio announcers (and singers) just have a different mind set to actors that conflicts with their being able to switch "from different modes." The professionalism of their voice production is often mistaken for acting ability. What I am saying is that in my (local) experience, the dramatic motivation is missing and the delivery in such instances is less than convincing from an acting point of view.

I was trying to point out in answer to Camy's original question that imitating professional voices we hear on radio and other places (such as TV), is not always a good way to model how we speak publicly. I am sorry that I did not make this clearer in my earlier post. I certainly was not attacking radio announcers/singers as such, just trying to point out the different mediums use the voice from different perspectives with varying results.

I think "TR* and I basically agree, particularly in his paragraph about speaking differently in various roles.

I definitely agree that no one should feel forced to record or perform their work. Some poems, anyway, are only meant to be read silently and not be performed aloud. :icon13:

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Thank you all for your comments!

I think Des's comment

These days anything goes.
is pretty much the way I'm going to go, and ... erm ... damn the consequences.

Either I can or I can't, and the judge of that will have to be the listener.

It is a good idea to rehearse for someone whom you will not mind telling you what is not quite right with your delivery. On the other-hand watch out for praise from those who have a strong attraction to seeing you draped in your bed linen.

This had me laughing like a drain, as duvets tend to make me look rather overweight.

Cheers!

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