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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The means by which modern music has been shaped by the impact of recorded sound, for example through Pierre Schaeffer’s notion of the ‘sound object’, provides some insights into related processes in poetry. A twentieth-century interest in sound, which through recording can be isolated from its origin, has an equivalent in understandings of poetry that emphasize the materiality of language and its separation from an authorial source. Drawing on work by Denise Riley, John James, Sean Bonney, and Caroline Bergvall, this essay will look at how the use of recording rather than notation as a compositional tool in certain areas of contemporary music is paralleled in these contemporary poets’ approaches to memory, quotation, and misquotation of lyrics from recorded songs. While writing has historically occupied a culturally privileged position, response to shared sound is part of everyday life in social spaces. The contrast between the two enables new understandings of lyric subjectivity and its relation to the collective domain.

Keywords: music, poetry, lyrics, sound, sound object, quotation, orphic, adopted language

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