‘Synesthesia’ workshop on music and poetry

CCRI (sea cry)university of Edinburgh is running some workshops under the name ‘Synesthesia’ they are using different modalities to inspire writing. There are five in all unfortunately I can only attend 2. Yesterday was all about using Music to write poems.

We listened to a variety of pieces including some Bach and a Gaelic song.

The workshop was led by Lindy Barbour a lecturer and poet. We were encouraged to write about the music in three ways – free writing whilst listening to the music, then to make ‘cluster’ images which are very similar to mind maps. Lastly to write continuously for 5mins. After we had repeated this exercise several times and discussed our thoughts. Lindy asked us to choose some writing to use as the basis of a poem. We had to produce 5 couplets.

The first piece of music was for a string orchestra written by Bach in A minor. I was immediately taken back to my childhood. My sister and I used to attend a music school where we went to Saturday morning lessons for choir, and quartet practice – I played the viola and she plays the violin. Then Wednesday after school we had orchestra practise-in a gym.

This is my free writing to the music seasons I haven’t edited anything rain pouring hitting leaves, waves,dancing, fabric twirling, dancing , harmony

beats underneath, layers, repetition, winding up like a spool, stomach tightening, Saint Seans- children playing, wind blowing, piped music , garden centres.

Continual writing -I am taken back, to childhood string orchestras and violin lessons. Sitting in a gym playing my viola. The beats and harmonies whilst the violins twirl and dance above us, the cellos below. My sister playing, sight reading, fluently, jealousy at her fluidity. The wind blows dancing leaves and the rain batters the window.

Still she plays the tension winding me up like a spool. A minor key. Her fingers fly, my beat plods. With hindsight it’s a necessary layer holding and giving space to the fluidity that soars above. At the time not good enough, not skilled enough pounds in my head.

Taken back to childhood jealousy’s to Jon and her singing at the weekend, my tantrum as I refuse to play along with their harmonies.

The fabrics are twirling on the dance floor, the bows and fingers, feet in time, out of time. Dipping in and out of emotion. Winding that bobbin up and then throwing it out into the wind. The thread loose to catch on twigs and leaves in a park

And then my 5 couplets

Sitting in a sun lit gym playing harmonies

Whilst violins trill and float above me

My sister sight reads with a fluency

The wind catches leaves, the rain batters the window

And still she plays

Strings wound tightly

My beat a necessary layer, holding the ground

So her fingers can dance

Stretched thin by emotion

In time, out of time, in a minor key.


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