Assignment: Devise a new poetic form and write a computer program that generates texts that conform to the poetic form you devised.
I began this week’s assignment thinking about what body of text is ‘structurally interesting’. I landed on song lyrics because they are so diverse. When listening to a song, we are not fully aware of its lyrics structure because so much of it is dependent on its delivery i.e. melody, rhythm etc. Looking at the lyrics structure itself, it is almost random with rhymes and emphasis here and there.
I want to experiment and see if I can create a poetic structure that is able to deliver a feeling of a song – something which has a textural feel to it. Something which feels interwoven and ‘lyrical’.
As a result, I created ‘Textural Lyrics Generator’.
The generator (currently me curating the input) takes an album, looks up its song lyrics and breaks them up into lines. It then finds the rhymes at the end of each line and group those which are the same.
Once the lines are grouped (currently running in code), it randoms a title of the song, randoms a number of verses between 3-6 verses, randoms a number of lines between 1-8 lines and ends with credits to the songwriter.
After the process is done, it prints out the lyrics.
After deciding on the structure of the lyrics I started looking for a source text. I took Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ album because I could never hear the words of the songs. When listening to the songs, the words are so in-tune with the melodies that the blend with each other and the voice becomes merely an envelope of sound. This made me wonder if I could create the same feeling with the ‘Textural Lyrics Generator’.
These were the results:
FLUME I move in water, shore to shore; tail on I move in water, shore to shore; nothing’s more. take all on the wind on cause blinded I was blindsided the end of a blood line... the moon is a cold light him: “for every life...” leaving rope burns— her: . Original text by Justin Vernon
CREATURE FEAR peek in... into the peer in so ready for us, I am my mother’s only one her: “forgo the parable.” her: “forgo the parable.” . Original text by Justin Vernon
BLINDSIDED him: “for every life...” for the agony, I’d rather know running home, running home, I’m crippled and slow I cup the window now you know. the so many territories for the agony for the agony teased by your blouse teased by your blouse spit out by your mouth would you really rush out for me now? spit out by your mouth . Original text by Justin Vernon
CREATURE FEAR so many foreign worlds “I toured the light; so many foreign roads for Emma, forever ago.” running home, running home, contrasting the snow there’s a pull to the flow I was full by your count bike down... down to the downtown spit out by your mouth the creature fear . Original text by Justin Vernon
Future development: automate the input curation and sorting process mentioned above.
How well does the output of your computer program conform to your invented poetic form? Could a human do it better?
I was very happy with the results because they turned out to be unique yet very meaningful. I believe a human could do it but it would not contain the sense of ‘random’ (which technically is an element related to creativity) and would take a much longer time.
How does your choice of source text (your “raw material”) affect the character and quality of the poems that your program generates?
As the source of text I chose was very poetic to begin with, the results had the quality of a ‘poem’. However, I can imagine this working or more pop lyrics as well, for instance, taking a lady gaga album, or an R&B/soul album such as Steve Wonder’s ‘Songs in the Key of Life’.
Work-in-process results I found interesting: