Music is another artistic experience that is affected by the way it is presented. I don’t mean the details of the specific piece—the type of instrument or the notes of the song or even the lyrics. I’m thinking about the difference between a song that is listened to versus a song that is visualized in a video. The listener brings his/her own experiences to a song that is only heard and will visualize or interpret according to that experience. When a song is put to video, the camera is doing most of the interpretation, or at least guiding it in a certain, specific way. Either technique can limit or expand the receiver’s appreciation of the music.
With poetry, I believe there are several parts that all complement each other and also work individually. Written, the form becomes the visual meaning—line breaks, words that are set apart, use of capitals or lower case, placement on the page, the font—all contribute to the message. Spoken, it can become a different poem—the voice is driving the form. Emphasis is on certain words or syllables, volume and tone of voice direct the listener, facial expression and body language of the speaker can affect the
I read a play written by a friend of mine. I haven’t seen it acted out. On paper, I get a sense of the staging and the characters but to really get the full emotional impact and true understanding of the story, I need to see it performed. I watched the movie No Country for Old Men the other night. Part way through, I realized there was no soundtrack--no music at all until the final credits rolled. That was very powerful--the lack of emotion-triggering music made just as strong a statement as if the music was present.
The medium and how it is used is as important as the message itself. I think about that a lot, especially in my own writing and the form I choose for each piece (poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction). What do you think?