Poetry, Music, and Reproduced Sound

Damien Keane

in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199561247
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Poetry, Music, and Reproduced Sound

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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Irish poetry has often been assumed to share a special connection to music, whether it is the ‘musicality’ of Irish speech to rhyme and stress patterns in verse or beliefs about the social role of poetry in national life. Indeed, all three underlie Thomas MacDonagh's conception of a distinctive ‘Irish mode’ in poetry. Poetry itself can be treated as a ‘technology’ of sound reproduction, although this characterisation should not subsume obvious differences from mechanical and electrical means of reproducing sound. This chapter examines music and poetry and their relation to the non-aesthetic category of reproduced sound, comparing two recordings of Louis MacNeice's ‘Bagpipe Music’ made within several months of each other in 1961. It also examines soundscape, a term that refers to sound beyond the ear and in the world about us, and defined more precisely by R. Murray Schafer.

Keywords: Irish poetry; music; sound reproduction; reproduced sound; Louis MacNeice; Bagpipe Music; soundscape; R. Murray Schafer

Article.  7151 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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