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Wednesday, September 5, 2018


I played Carmen Linares's version of "El viaje definitivo" to my class yesterday. It is a very great poem by Juan Ramón Jiménez, and I admire Linares's singing quite a bit, and this album of Juan Ramón songs is one I listen to a lot with real pleasure.

This being said, the poem is all about restrained emotion, right.? ".... and I will go, and the birds will stay here, singing..."  It's about a quiet acceptance of the impermanence of life with the knowledge that life itself will continue fine without me.  The poem is emotive, but in implicit kind of way, since everything I leave behind will continue despite my absence. I won't really be missed much, but it's ok.

There is no restrained emotion in flamenco. The minute Carmen starts with "ay .. ay" and the melisma, the emotion is there as the most prominent element in the performance. It would be hard to see how it could be otherwise.

So I am contrasting the poem as I hear it my head, not sung or declaimed theatrically, but spoken in a nuanced but restrained way, and a vocal performance of it that needs to emote because of the very genre of music in which it is sung. (Think of another genre that promotes "coolness" or emotional restraint over this kind of dramatic performance.). I am interpreting the poem and then finding discrepancies between my interpretation and a musical performance.

But I still like the performance fine.

1 comment:

Leslie B. said...

What a wild contrast text/music, it is quite fun!

Now I may not be able to read the poem in the same way