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Rare Video: Ginsberg on Music, William Blake, and a Harmonium

By Harriet Staff

The Allen Ginsberg Project dug up another gem today. This 1978 video opens with Ginsberg singing William Blake’s “The Tyger,” but sadly, there’s some trouble with the audio. He uses song to discuss how to read and hear Blake’s poetry. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:

So it’s only if you get back to the pronunciation of the singing that you might be able to figure the music or the rhythmic intention, you might reconstruct Blake’s rhythmic intention (he actually tried to vocalize it) either from speech or song – Actually, that was the point I was trying to make. So if you begin from the words and make a music which is an extension of the vocal tones of the emotional intention in speaking the words as if they were to make sense and communicate, then you’d have a great number of varying tones and some indication toward melody.

The conversation eventually (inevitably?) turns to Bob Dylan, and Ginsberg admits that he is “a total groupie!” Check out the full video after the jump.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Harriet Staff.