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  • Catharsis Made Simple

    This is in reaction to the very good "1st attempt" at writing a song in a recent thread by newcomer Scott. First off Scott, I was very impressed with your ability to make your words punch and weave and bounce rhythmically. Something that is way too often overlooked by our collective criticisms here on this forum of songwriters. I think you score high, very high indeed on that measure.


     


    For me the give away of this being a 1st attempt is the subject matter and the lack of reaching out to an audience. Songs aren't a personal journal. If yours was, you wouldn't have posted it. And more power to you for doing so. You are respected by all of us here for your post. You do want to communicate, whether you realize that yet or not.  We all do. We, all of us, just don't want to put the work in once we see that fact. But then... it becomes addicting. Because eventually you do connect. And then you've been bit.


     


    Please read a key except from Arthur Plotnic's The Elements of Authorship. Everyone please read and comment! I love this.


     


    Catharsis Made Simple


     


    Every beginning writer must acknowledge Aristotle's principle of "catharsis," or purgation, as formulated in his Poetics. Good drama (tragedy) arouses pity and fear, but in doing so cleanses the audience of these distressing emotions, giving a sense of relief and even elation.


     


    The cries of the child-writer begin as self catharsis. By calling attention to newly awakened fears, the child seeks to purge them, or even better to make the nearest grown-up feel lousy. Composition teachers know this form of expression as "My God the Pain!" writing. It fills student anthologies:


     


    My head is exploding , man.


    My heart's gonna burst.


    Nobody knows how it's killing me.


    The world.


    Hey, I can kill, too.


    Like myself?


     


    Although the authors may feel purged, such outcries fail to cleanse anyone else or to give, hey, like a little elation? Cathartic diversion is writing that goes beyond primal whimpering to bring elation and relief to an audience. That reaching out is the craft of writing and editing.

    __________
    Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

  • #2

    Worthwhile read:

     

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974-h/1974-h.htm

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    • #3

      Lee Knight wrote:

      This is in reaction to the very good "1st attempt" at writing a song in a recent thread by newcomer Scott. First off Scott, I was very impressed with your ability to make your words punch and weave and bounce rhythmically. Something that is way too often overlooked by our collective criticisms here on this forum of songwriters. I think you score high, very high indeed on that measure.


       


      For me the give away of this being a 1st attempt is the subject matter and the lack of reaching out to an audience. Songs aren't a personal journal. If yours was, you wouldn't have posted it. And more power to you for doing so. You are respected by all of us here for your post. You do want to communicate, whether you realize that yet or not.  We all do. We, all of us, just don't want to put the work in once we see that fact. But then... it becomes addicting. Because eventually you do connect. And then you've been bit.


       


      Please read a key except from Arthur Plotnic's The Elements of Authorship. Everyone please read and comment! I love this.


       


      Catharsis Made Simple


       


      Every beginning writer must acknowledge Aristotle's principle of "catharsis," or purgation, as formulated in his Poetics. Good drama (tragedy) arouses pity and fear, but in doing so cleanses the audience of these distressing emotions, giving a sense of relief and even elation.


       


      The cries of the child-writer begin as self catharsis. By calling attention to newly awakened fears, the child seeks to purge them, or even better to make the nearest grown-up feel lousy. Composition teachers know this form of expression as "My God the Pain!" writing. It fills student anthologies:


       


      My head is exploding , man.


      My heart's gonna burst.


      Nobody knows how it's killing me.


      The world.


      Hey, I can kill, too.


      Like myself?


       


      Although the authors may feel purged, such outcries fail to cleanse anyone else or to give, hey, like a little elation? Cathartic diversion is writing that goes beyond primal whimpering to bring elation and relief to an audience. That reaching out is the craft of writing and editing.





      Well observed. I'm not usually the biggest fan of Aristotle (he had his points, to be sure  wink.gif &nbsp but that's a good one...

      My first poems were sci fi. It took me a while to get down to the primal pain...  grin 

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      • Lee Knight
        Lee Knight commented
        Editing a comment

        I see my thoughts have struck a universal chord and they're still talking about it!


         


        The reason I felt the need to comment on this is because I feel that tug as I write all too often. To whimper and cry out in anguish! Oh the pain!!! Nobody knows the angst I feel... brother can you spare a Kleenex?


         


        I've come to realize it's not enough. Quite frankly, it actually moves in the opposite direction intended. Instead of what should be empathy we're shooting for, we shoot for sympathy... and wind up getting disdain and an exasperated, "Oh brother" instead.


         


        My teen daughter needs to wallow for a few in her funk and fear and anger. Words of acknowledgment will not move you through and past. We must live in the muck for a certain time. "Dad, these classes are killing me. They are rotting my soul and leaving me but a shell." I know sweetie. It's hard and it sucks. "Noooo! You don't understand!!!" I'm sorry. But trust me, you will get through this all right. "No!!!!!!! You don't get it!"


         


        No. I guess I don't.


         


        A teen's whine serves no purpose but to release some internal pressure. But a writer's whine? It serves a higher purpose. Hopefully. In the words of Plotnic, to "...arouse pity and fear, but in doing so cleanse the audience of these distressing emotions, giving a sense of relief and even elation."


         


        The audience should benefit as opposed to just being there as an ear for the writer's woes. Cause really, there will be no audience. I love my daughter enough to endure the wallowing and remember my own. But that's about as far as that's gonna go.


         


        This line of thinking, I believe, is important to bear in mind every time we pick up a pencil or pound out a couplet at the keyboard. As the kids say, "just sayin'."


    • #4
      I like something I read today. Steve jobs said, paraphrasing from a Japanese designer, "Art stretches the boundaries of taste. It doesn't follow taste." I like that a lot. It's why I feel safe listening to so much mainstream pop music. I want to know what the common taste is, and I want to stretch it.
      __________
      Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

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      • dramey
        dramey commented
        Editing a comment

        Damn, I was hoping that was a song title. Would have been right up my alley.

         

         


      • LCK
        LCK commented
        Editing a comment

        Lee Knight wrote:
        I like something I read today. Steve jobs said, paraphrasing from a Japanese designer, "Art stretches the boundaries of taste. It doesn't follow taste." I like that a lot. It's why I feel safe listening to so much mainstream pop music. I want to know what the common taste is, and I want to stretch it.

        I should pay more attention to stuff like this.^ Not just this ^ but everyone's input in this thread.

        I was having a lengthy back-and-forth on another thread about the difference between brilliant, luminary lyricists and those who are far-lesser lights. And the quote above is one aspect of that difference.

        Meanwhile I read a Joni Mitchell quote about Ira Gershwin recently, where she said something to the effect that he was a terrible lyricist. (She also said Ellington was the block, and George Gerswhin was just a chip.)

        I can understand her frustration because it was Ira who said that lyrics should be conversational, and a good many of his lyrics are anything but! And yet, taken within the context of the times he was writing in -- sort of wedged as he was between Gilbert and Sullivan and Dylan and Mitchell -- Ira was a breakthrough artist even if he didn't always live up to his own ideals or satisfy people like Ms. Mitchell.

        So I think Ira Gershwin did that. He stretched the boundaries of the lyrical tastes of his time, or tried to.

        But he was also tied to the coat-tails of a musical juggernaut. It can't have been easy to keep up with George's output. Maybe that's why -- as the story goes -- Ira once holed up in a hotel room for 3 days to finish one line of their song "Embraceable You." Three days! It took him three days to come up with: "Come to papa, come to papa, do..."

        So if he failed, once in a while, to live up to Joni Mitchell's high standards (and, yes, sometimes mine), he may have had good reason for those failures. It's not easy to keep up with someone who's writing music much faster than you can write the words. (I've been in that position myself a few times.)

        Just thinking about this makes me stop and realize how little respect Mike Love has gotten for how well he kept up lyrically with Brain Wilson's musical output during those early years with The Beach Boys. But then Mike tends to bring down a lot of hate on his head just by being Mike...


    • #5
      Every beginning writer must acknowledge Aristotle's principle of "catharsis," or purgation, as formulated in his Poetics. Good drama (tragedy) arouses pity and fear, but in doing so cleanses the audience of these distressing emotions, giving a sense of relief and even elation.
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