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Lilt: a theory of melody

A melody has to catch the ear. A lilt is an up and down movement that has to be asymmetrical or surprising in some way. It can go up, and ...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Unconscious

*Something* told me I should go to the library and check out one of the volumes of Saintsbury's great history of English prosody. I didn't even know exactly why I needed it until I started reading it again, but I knew it had something to do with my current project. Now, of course, I realize that I needed to look at his contrast between blank verse before Shakespeare, with its end-stopped, hiccuping lines, and Shakespeare's more fluid approach, in order to work on this chapter on the Spanish verse-paragraph. I had half remembered, from reading this maybe 10 years ago, that this would be relevant. He also talks about Milton's approach to paragraphing. It's probably only worth a few sentences, but those few lines could make a significant difference. Spanish prosody, I think, is even more geared toward the unity of the individual line than English is, so calling in Saintsbury as a reinforcement would be advantageous in making my argument. The "sense variously drawn out from one Verse into another" and the like.

I find it marvelous that Saintsbury uses the word groove in a modern sense:
But in the second [half of his life], he had what was all his own, a resless and catholic spirit of exploration and appreciation that made it impossible for him to stay in one groove.

I began working on prosody the minute I was in Graduate School. If that had been a more acceptable option professinally and I had been a better linguist, I would have only done that. I remember my professors in Graduate School asking me if I was going to read the entire three volumes of Saintsbury or look only at the abridged version.

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