musical inspiration from the lyrical genius of e.e. cummings

poetry that is closest to the actual speaking voice, the inflections, intonations, breath and music of the speaking voice, has a tendency to make us prick up our ears. when a poet can do this and still be campy, quirky, sexually aggressive and vulnerable, we have no  choice but to be left wanting more. e.e. cummings’ work possesses this quality along with an innate musicality. the poems also have a cinematic character that inspires musical connection; you see the images in your minds eye, and the soundtrack  forms itself around them. consider the  poem maggie milly molly and may. this poem inspired a musical rendering of it in which martin (my partner in genre peak) and i heard music that, beyond the surface of the story, spoke to a certain existential longing that even small children, though unaware, succumb to in every moment. the unreleased  genre peak track “in the sea” which follows, is an aural presentation inspired by this evocation:

 maggie, milly, molly and may

 maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach  to play one day

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

  the music of it leaps out at you, and you may end up with something like this:

 genre peakin the sea

cummings work is a primary inspiration on the lyrical work I am doing for the upcoming genre peak album “as small as a world and large as alone” which is also the name of this blog,  as well as a line from the aforementioned cummings poem. the line itself is again signature cummings, spare enough to resonate on the surface, but expansive enough to elicit nascent visions, images and music that are  inspiring, and that resonate independent of time, genre, or aesthetic definition.


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