The Singing/Rapping Poet
At songwriter's group last night, Jim treated us to two poem-rap songs. I and another member had just gotten through extolling the virtues of a 3-4 minute song, when out came this 8-10 minute long "song." My only saving grace was there's always an exception to every rule, and this was one of them.
What he did was to set a groove on the guitar, sing a short verse, kept the groove going, and start speaking. He would then alternate between the poem and singing. It went on for quite a while and I still wanted more.
In our discussion/critique a few points were raised about the songwriting
1. The sung verses were an opportunity to relax - After the hard hitting rap/poetry, I could feel myself breathe again when he started singing. Once sufficiently rested, I was ready for the rap message again.
2. We can relax in the familiar - In one song he changed the verses and the other kept it the basically the same (chorus-like). The chorus-like version was much more effective in getting us ready for the rap.
3. Changing dynamics - Even though he played basically the same chord progression for a long time, he would play hard, soft, or modify the picking pattern (while keeping time) to emphasize points. He changed vocal expressions (angry, sad, joy ...). and from rap to singing. These dynamics were what made the song interesting well beyond 3 minutes.
4. Attitude is melody - He mentioned that he really needed to be in the mood to perform these songs. He had to feel these songs in order to perform them. A big component of poetry/rap is attitude and expression. Attitude is the melody, otherwise it sounds like a flat one note song.
Finally, his lyrics were outstanding. His only challenge will be to remember them all to be able to perform without his notes.