The Shape of Song · 07:07:12

The Shape of Song

‘Towards song: re-shaping spoken lyric’ was presented by David Prior and John Hall as part of ‘The Shape of Song: A Conference on Lyric Poetry’ at University of Cambridge this weekend.

As an interdisciplinary approach to exploring through practice ‘lyric’s relationship to music … and performance’, this collaborative proposal responds to the last sentence in the narrative of the call for papers. David Prior, composer and sound-artist, and John Hall, poet, have begun to explore together the effects of subtle modulations of the sound shape of recordings of spoken poetry, using recent software. They propose to share at least one such experiment in which a poem written and read by John Hall will have been modified, either by pitch adjustment and / or by the accentuation of formants, so as to bring out lyrical or song-like qualities already latent. They will place the experiment in context, including its emergence from earlier engagements in the work and research of each of them: in Prior’s case often working with speech as a composer; in Hall’s, as a ‘lyric poet’ who has recently returned his attention to work undertaken in the 70s and 80s by Douglas Oliver on the ‘performance’ of poetry (Oliver, Poetry and Narrative in Performance [London, 1989]). They will play excerpts, explain the technical modifications made and comment on their implications for an understanding of the sound world of lyric poetry.

'The Shape of Song: A Conference on Lyric Poetry' takes place at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge on 7 – 8 July 2012


  • General,
  • Sound Art,
  • David Prior