Post by David Bradley, LiveConnections facilitator
We had a great exploration today of the rhythmic properties of language, offering the students several examples (from Steve Reich’s “It’s Gonna Rain”; to MC Yogi’s “Vote for Hope,” which combined Obama’s 2004 convention speech with the rapper’s 2008 campaign rap; to the 1930’s “Geographical Fugue”). We began it all with a great piece Andrew Lipke (LiveConnections teaching artist) produced, drawing on a 1920’s era very sunny promotion of the coal mining industry, which he then treated to offer lots of ways to interpret the message of that promo.
All of this led us to talk about how language and words can be used rhythmically and musically, how doing this can express point of view, and how these forms can take non-musical content and interpret/arrange it in ways that draw us in. We made a list of words drawn from the world of coal mining and created our own word/rhythm pieces, and then took quotes from their research on the National History Day “Rights and Responsibilities” projects and arranged those.
So you change the pronoun him to her.
I’m drunk into freedom, I see smiling
Faces, but no one know how I feel.
Straight people make gays have closet.”
–From Denice Frohman, spoken word poet
“…she died knowing she had won the battle.”
About Margaret Sanger
The students picked the words change/drunk into freedom/battle and built a rhythm around that.
One student, in answering how to tie coal mining to the theme of rights and responsibilities, had this response: “We have the responsibility to know history, so we can have more rights than people had before us.”