From story to poem to lyric to song

To finish up, we left the writing of poems behind us, and tried writing a song together.

Started, though, with a mime: old man walking along, slips & hurts himself; finds a tree, breaks off branch & uses it as stick to walk safely across rest of room; looks behind him & sees a younger person about to walk across room, signals to her to wait, walks over & hands her the stick, which she uses to walk safely across rest of room.

Then, mimed a mime: three lines; first line, five syllables; second line, seven syllables; third line, five syllables; first line.

A haiku. Hurray! Then, sounded the following syllables, with vowel sounds only first:

‘A’ ‘E’ ‘U’ ‘A’ ‘E’

‘U’ ‘I’ ‘A’ ‘E’ ‘I’ ‘IH’ ‘E’

‘I’ ‘Y’ ‘A’ ‘E’ ‘I’


The sounds became more and more clear and defined with consonant sounds until words were indicated and eventually the Seamus Heaney haiku emerged:

Dangerous pavements

But I face the ice this year

With my father’s stick.

We began reciting this together with more and more confidence until a hint of pitch was introduced here and there, and this eventually became the melody of the Paul Simon setting of ‘Dangerous Pavements’ which eventually everyone was singing.

The poem connected with some of our themes (relations, health) & modes of working (empathy, objects).


Having thus illustrated a process, we returned to a poem we’d been reciting together for a few weeks, namely: ‘Bone Flute’ by Doireann Ní Ghriofa. The group split up into twos and threes and began sifting the poem for musical prompts and setting ideas. These included ‘cawing’ sounds, breathing sounds, grunts, chanting, whistling. For lyrics, the group focussed on particular moments in the narrative of the poem, reworking the words considerably to tell a sketched version of the story. Eventually, a few melodic themes were sung out, and one member of the group being a musician began consolidating those melodic lines on the fiddle, until everything could be recorded onto GarageBand for later editing.





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