Hearing Tsur's "poetic mode": The text/music relationship from monody to Bjork
Guillen, Lorena M.
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The pleasure we experience through hearing a song depends largely on musical gestures---sonorous stimuli that are a complex web of musical and language parameters. The listener's emotional experience is mostly independent of the understanding of the semantic meaning of the lyrics. This dissertation looks into how people listen to song and how, consciously or unconsciously, that affects the strategies implemented by composers and songwriters while facing the task of creating their pieces: Which are the diverse compositional tactics employed to manipulate the focus of the listener's perception of the text? How can composers and songwriters emphasize, compensate for, or oppose this sonic connection of the listener to the song's text? Our first tendency as listeners is to connect musically to the popular song or vocal "art" work. Although there is an intention of deciphering the semantic message of the lyrics, it is only after repeated listening that the audience is able to apprehend the piece as a cohesive discourse. Aside from paying attention to the strict musical elements of the piece, listeners predominantly perceive the sonic or musical aspects of its lyrics: the colors of its phonemes, the prosodic arch of intonation of its phrases, the sonic quality of the performing voice, and the specific colors and inflections that the voice adopts at each phrase. In order to test the hypothesis previously proposed and then explore further ramifications, two different research tools were implemented: direct observation of materials (analysis of vocal pieces through listening to specific recordings and analysis of scores) and surveys of college students to observe their perception of the four popular songs analyzed.