[Smt-talk] Looking for bad text settings

Jeremy Day-O'Connell jdayocon at knox.edu
Mon Aug 25 11:25:44 PDT 2014

Hello Justin,

The world of pop/rock music will furnish a host of egregious scansion, I imagine.  But recently I've been thinking about much more subtle violations, with respect to linguistic "contrastive focus."  Three examples have been on my mind and might be useful to you or to others:

-Katrina and the Waves, "Walking on Sunshine": "I used to think maybe you loved me / Now I know that it's true."  Semantic focus is on "Now I know" (i.e., in contrast to "I used to think"); but metric focus is on "true" (in apparent, nonsensical contrast to "loved").

-Phil Collins, "In the Air Tonight": "I've seen your face before, my friend / But I don't know if you know who I am."  Semantic focus is on "you" and the subsequent "I"; but metric focus is instead on "know" and "am."

-Steve Winwood, "Higher Love": "I will wait for it / I'm not too late for it." A metrical mess ... or else, arguably a clever representation of the ideas of waiting and being late!


Jeremy Day-O'Connell
Associate Professor and Chair
Music Department
Knox College


(309) 341-7301
jdayocon at knox.edu

On Aug 20, 2014, at 10:06 AM, Justin London <jlondon at carleton.edu> wrote:

> Dear collective wisdom,
> For a unit on rhythm, meter, and text setting, I am on the looking for examples of especially awful text setting—that is, mis-matches between poetic scansion and the musical rhythm that are especially jarring or awkward.
> While we will enjoy seeing these sent on the list, I promise also to produce a collated list—perhaps we can have a contest(!)
> All best, and thanks in advance,
> Justin London
> *************************************************
> Justin London
> Professor of Music (and other stuff), Carleton College
> Department of Music
> One North College St.
> Northfield, MN 55057 USA
> +1 507-222-4397
> Affiliated Researcher, Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge
> Fulbright Professor (2014), University of Jyväskylä, Finland
> jlondon at carleton.edu
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