Verbal art across language and culture: poetry as music

Norbert Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The following proposal for research begins with the observation that in specific contexts of performance poetic language appears to allow for varying degrees of access across language boundaries. This cross-language access, if it can be verified empirically, might be attributed to distinguishing features that differentiate poetic from prosaic discourse, on the one hand, and from musical structure on the other, an important problem in its own right. To approach this research question it is recommended to begin with poetic works as they are performed for a listening audience and to prioritize, at the beginning of the research project, composition and performance from the popular culture, broadly defined, and from the traditional genres of the oral tradition. Another point of reference for this discussion, which follows from the above recommended approach, is the Lerdahl-Jackendoff proposal of analyzing poetry as a kind of musical form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-552
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Bilingualism
  • Cross-cultural poetics
  • Hip-hop
  • Oral tradition
  • Popular culture
  • Tonality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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