Are Musicians Poets?

Nov 15 · 4 min read

Do musicians write poetry? The short answer is yes, but it's tricky to pin down exactly what that means. I've seen a lot of musicians who have expressed their love for poetry, but if we really want to define what makes someone a poet, then we need to look at two things: how they express themselves and why they do it in the first place. I'm going to take a look at some examples of musicians who have expressed their love for poetry and see if we can draw any conclusions about what makes them poets or not.

The word poetry has many meanings

You may have heard the word “poetry” used to describe music, but that's not all it can mean. Poetry is a broad term that covers many different styles of writing. These include:

Written poetry - Poems that are written down by hand or typed on a computer.

Spoken poetry - Spoken words set to rhyme, rhythm, and meter. Sometimes called "spoken word."

Free verse - A spoken or written poem without rhyme or set rhythm (except for natural rhythms). Most poets fall into this category, although some people prefer the term "free verse" because they think it sounds more sophisticated than "unrhymed poetry." Other poets prefer terms such as “non-formal” or “open form” instead of free verse because they feel it's misleading to call something free if it has rules about how you're supposed to write it, even though those rules are flexible rather than strict like with formal poems like sonnets and villanelles where every line has to have eight syllables (or fourteen in an Italian sonnet)

There is a long history of musicians writing poetry.

Musicians and poets have been influencing each other since the very beginning of music. As early as the 6th century BC, musicians were writing poetry.

The relationship between musicians and poets is a long one; in fact, it's probably fair to say that they are two sides of the same coin. They share many similarities: both use words to evoke emotion in their audience, both write about language itself (though musicians might call it “lyrics” instead).

Musicians and poets have always been connected.

Poets and musicians have been connected since the beginning of time. In fact, they've been influencing each other for centuries. Take Dante, who inspired many great artists with his masterpieces like The Divine Comedy and Inferno. Or consider Shakespeare, who was famous for writing plays about kings and queens (and other royalty), which helped set the stage for future British composers like Handel and Purcell to write operas about similar subjects.

Musicians are inspired by poets, who come from all backgrounds.

You might think that poets are only poets if they're writers, but that's not the case. Musicians can be inspired by lyricists who write words to music. Painters can be inspired by visual artists. And so on. Poetry is an art form that comes from all different backgrounds and walks of life—musicians are just one more example of people who use poetry to express their thoughts and emotions in a way others understand easily because it's connected to their own lives too!

Song lyrics are a form of poetry

You can't just look at song lyrics and call them poetry. They're a form of poetry, a subset of poetry, and a type of poem—but they aren't the same as the other kinds of poems you read in school.

For example, the first line of "Let It Be" by the Beatles is: "When I find myself in times of trouble." This is not written in iambic pentameter like Shakespeare's sonnets or blank verse from Milton's Paradise Lost (both forms are examples of free verse). In fact, it doesn't even rhyme! There are many more words than lines too: "When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me/Speaking words I know will guide me/In my life's journey." How can this count as one poem?

It can be hard to think about song lyrics as poems because they're so short—they don't seem like they could contain enough depth or meaning to hold up as literature on their own terms. But if you look closely at these lyrics from "Let It Be," there are multiple metaphors hidden within them that tell us something about what was happening during each person's life at that point in history when John Lennon wrote this song.

A poet is a composer of words; a musician is a composer of sounds.##

The first thing to explain is that the two arts have a lot in common. A poet uses words to create meaning, just as a musician does; and both are creators of mood, too.

But there are differences: Poets use words primarily as a means of storytelling, while musicians use sounds mostly for musical effect. The relationship between poetry and music is similar to the one between mating and reproduction—they're not identical but they're closely related enough that they share some DNA—and while they may be different things, each can learn something from the other's methods or practices.

Often times, musicians are working with language that was created by someone else (the songwriter).

Often times, musicians are working with language that was created by someone else (the songwriter). They are not poets. This is where a bit of confusion can arise: many people think that a musician is the same thing as a poet because they both use words to create music. They don't! So let's get this straight—a poet uses words to create poetry.—poetry being written works of art that include rhythm and rhyme, among other elements—and a songwriter uses words in songs.—songs being musical pieces that contain melodies and lyrics, among other elements.

Now if you're still feeling confused about what makes these two different, here are some more examples: poets write their own original work whereas songwriters often collaborate with other artists on their compositions; poets write about personal experiences whereas many songwriters don't want their lyrics interpreted by anyone but them; and finally…poets explore new ideas through free verse whereas most songs follow common structures like ABAB or AABA.

In the end, there’s no clear answer to this question. Poetry and music can be similar in how they use words and sounds, but they also have very different purposes. Poets are primarily concerned with writing something new, while musicians are more focused on making listeners feel something familiar. Both forms of art have their own individual strengths; we think it just depends on what kind of mood you’re in when deciding what to listen or read! For more fun blogs check out our school who provides music lessons in Redmond. We have many blogs on different topics of music.

Charlie Fergson
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