Music and text: how they can be connected

    The study of the relationship of text and music is devoted to many scientific works not only of neuroscientists and musicologists, but also philologists, cognitive scholars and art historians.

    In this article, we have collected various examples of how music can be used with text, and what science says about this.

    Photo PxHere / PD

    When music inspires

    Music can influence creative thinking, cognition and stimulate imagination. Scientists from the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands came to the conclusion that people come up with more original and creative ideas while listening to “happy music” (i.e. music that causes positive mood and excitement — often classics).

    Some writers use this opportunity: listen to music when writing texts or resort to its help to enhance the emotional involvement of the reader.

    For example, French science fiction writer Bernard Werber, while writing the novel “Tomorrow's Cats” (Demain Les Chats), listened for inspiration from Beethoven’s sonata, Vivaldi’s Seasons and other musical works. A complete list of music and sounds Werber cites at the end of the novel.

    The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is helped by jazz and rock. In one of his essays, he mentioned that he would not have become a writer if he had not been so absorbed in music. “My style is deeply permeated with Charlie Parker's rhymes and the prose rhythm of F. Scott Fitzgerald. And I still draw something new in my literature from Miles Davis. ”

    In the afterword to the novel “Norwegian Forest” ( Norwegian Wood) Murakami notes that he wrote it to the songs of Lennon and McCartney, after listening to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cassette 120 times.

    In addition to inspiration for writing a specific text, music can have an impact on a whole generation of writers and all of their work. One of the clearest examples is the influence of the jazz bebop style on the writers of the “broken generation”: Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, the poet Allen Ginsberg, and others. Their formation took place in the mid-1940s, when a new jazz bebop style was formed with complex improvisations and a fast rhythm.

    The melodies of the saxophonist Charlie Parker, the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, and the pianist Thelonius Monk are often mentioned and sounded in the texts, many of which were read on the same stage with jazz musicians.

    Books with soundtracks and playlists for reading

    Many writers not only listen to music themselves while working, but also provide entire playlists for books to their readers. Here are some examples:

    • Together with the publication of the novel “The Holy Book of the Werewolf” by Viktor Pelevin , a CD with 11 pieces of music was released , including a Chinese folk song, a rock performed by the Dutch group Shocking Blue , tracks from films directed by Tony Chhin, etc.
    • The leader of the rock group "Megapolis" Oleg Nesterov released the novel "Skirt" about the music scene of Berlin in the 1930s and the development of rock music. A book came out with a CD with 12 Berlin hits recorded between 1934 and 1939.
    • After the release of the novel “Doctor Sleep” ( Doctor Sleep ), a sequel to the popular “Shining” (The Shining), Stephen King gathered for him an “official” playlist on Spotify. “I have a playlist for every novel I write. Music serves the book. I hope you will enjoy these tunes, ” commented the author. The playlist includes songs by bands playing punk rock, metal, folk and alternative music.

    In addition to the authors, playlists of books are made up by the readers themselves. The Guardian journalists conducted a survey on Twitter and on the website of the publication on the background music that users prefer to listen to while reading, and asked for specific examples where possible.

    Based on the survey, they compiled a playlist consisting of soothing background music that goes well with any text. The tracks are mostly classic, but come across jazz and rock. Users noted that the music should be slow, while listening to it is important at a moderate volume. Many wrote that while reading they listened to instrumental soundtracks, for example, compositions composed by Hans Zimmer.

    Photo PxHere / PD

    On the other hand, not everyone supports the idea of ​​listening to music and reading in parallel; such multitasking can distract from the process and not let you enjoy either the book or music to the full. By the way, many scientists agree with this opinion - in more detail in the next section:

    What science says about “compatibility” of music and reading

    The results obtained by Turkish researchers, partially confirm the opinion of those who believe that the simultaneous reading of the text and listening to music is difficult. In the course of the experiment conducted by the scientist, it turned out that the indicators of reading comprehension among students who listened to music were much worse than those who read the text in silence. However, if the student’s favorite music was included in the reading, its results did not differ significantly from the results of students who read without music (we wrote about other similar studies in one of our materials ).

    However, even your favorite music will impede the assimilation of information, if it has a fast rhythm and it plays at high volume - sure of itcomposer and "in combination" Professor of the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Glenn Schellenberg ( of Glenn Schellenberg ).

    Reading lyrics to music can also affect the perception of the melody. Neuroscientists from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics conducted an experiment in which they found that reading and listening to music at the same time “overloads” the capabilities of a brain area known as Broca's center.

    The subjects noted that reading complex sentences made their perception of the fullness of the music more difficult. The present study claims that this is not about dispersion of attention, but about listening to music and perception of the text are related to a common center of brain activity.

    Sound poetry and sound text compositions

    However, in some cases, harmoniously "make friends" audio and text is quite possible. Such an approach is practiced by sound poets ( sound-poetry ) and the creators of sound text compositions.

    Their works are at the junction of artistic text and music. The text can be voiced at a different pace (accelerated or slow), the recordings can overlap each other. A quick change of tonality is used, as well as background sounds (various noises, exclamations, screams, breathing movements, etc.) and musical samples.

    All these components are combined with the help of audio editing and turn into a sound-poetic work, in which the text is not an accompaniment for music, it is music.

    The study of this art form is devoted to individualscientific papers and articles . Since the inception of this trend, sound poets have united and performed in ensembles. One of the first sound poetic groups was The Four Horsemen , her performances can be heard here :

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