Exploring Music's Complexities

Music and Poetry-Is there a Relationship

Is there a relationship between poetry and music?   The question will be addressed by first defining each and  then exploring any possible relationships.


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What is music?

Music is a collection of coordinated sound or sounds, vibrations, and silent moments,. These sounds can be used to convey a whole range of experiences, environments, and emotions (1)

 As defined by Wikipedia, “Music is an art form, and cultural activity, whose medium is sound. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the “color” of a musical sound).” (2).

What is poetry?

Encyclopedia Btrteannnica  defines poetry as literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm (4).

The word Poetry (derived from the Greek poiesis, “making”) describes a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning. (2).

Poetry is different from regular prose because it is melodic. Poetry sings, and in doing so it is “received and processed” by the right hemisphere of the brain just like music, instead of the left hemisphere when reading regular texts (3).

The Relationship

Both music and poetry are used to describe experiences and both are used to express emotions. In antiquity, poems were often sung: the first lyric poets in ancient Greece performed their work to the accompaniment of the lyre, and the oldest anthology of Chinese poetry, the Shijing, was a collection of songs.  Many Shakespeare Sonnets combine words and music   In the Middle Ages minstrels recited and sang to a lute.

Musical songs are rhythmic.  Traditional poetry is formatted in the same way.  Music often serves as foundation for a poem.  In this way the words engage the listener and readers on an emotional journey.  Today’s example of this relationship can be seen and heard in Rap (3).


  1. What is music  https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-music-definition-terminology-characteristics.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_arts#Music
  3. Relationship Between Music and Poetry https://www.studmode.com/essas/Relationship-Between-Music-and-Poetry-439347.html
  4. https://www.britannica.com/
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