Hey! With our final projet coming to a close, it’s time to write another blog post to wrap everything up. Although this project was short, it was very enjoyable and one of my favourite projects we’ve done so far this school year. The name of the project was “Sounds of Poetry”. This project was all about understanding literary devices and using them to help us identify meaning in poetry and music. By doing so we were then able to better understand the power of language and how it shapes and influences who we are.
The driving question for this project was “How might we use music to represent ourselves and text?” To answer this question, the final product that we created from this project was a playlist of our life. I chose 5 songs that had some sort of meaning to me and broke them down using the literary terms that we learned to help me explain my thoughts for the meaning of each song. Now, below is the final playlist that I put together throughout this project. This playlist comprises songs that I enjoy listening to with messages that I resonate with.
Before we created our analysis, we did a practice analysis on any song that we wanted. I chose to write my song analysis on “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. I chose this song because I enjoy Louis Armstrong’s music and I felt that this song had a very good message to it. It’s a song that I’ve heard hundreds of times but never really thought deeply about the meaning until now. Below you can click on the blue title to view the analysis that I wrote.
What a Wonderful World is trying to express the importance of the thing around us that is beautiful in this world that may be overlooked or under-appreciated. The song takes you through the importance of nature and friendship. Even from the first line of the song “I See Trees of Green, Red roses too” the song starts with talking about the beauty of nature and the importance of recognizing the things around you.
The reason I chose this song is that I feel like with everything going on in everyone’s life sometimes people only focus on the problems and issues that they feel are of most importance. They forget to appreciate all the good things that they have that they may take for granted.
The song uses a simple rhyme scheme where the last word in the first two lines of each verse rhyme. There is a use of repetition of the line “And I think to myself what a wonderful world.” This phrase is repeated to help emphasize the message of the song. This repetition not only emphasizes the message of the song overall but also ties the whole song together. After almost every verse this exact phrase is repeated. It just showed that throughout the song, with every verse that mentions, everything goes back to the beauty of the world.
Imagery is a recurring technique used throughout this song. In almost every verse, you hear lines that describe a scene and paint a picture in your head. When Louis Armstrong says “The Colours of the Rainbow, so Pretty in the Sky” he uses words such as colour and sky to help create a more vivid image in your head. I feel that he also uses the rainbow as a symbol. To many cultures, a rainbow is a symbol of hope. It’s a sign of the promise of better times to come. A lot was going on during 1968 when the song was released such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. which led to violence and riots in U.S. cities. These difficult events going on during the time is a juxtaposition to the positivity of the song.
The line “I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow They’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know” also goes back to the same message of hope. Babies are a symbol of the next generation and growth. When he says they’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know, I feel that it’s a message that the world is changing and over time new things are going to be discovered and more knowledge is going to be passed down from each generation. It’s the symbol of a healthier and brighter future for the world.
Now, this analysis gave me a better understanding of how to break down a song using the literary terms that we learned about at the beginning of the project. I found that going down each line of the lyric helped me best with identifying literary devices used in the song. In addition to that, it helped me better understand the meaning of the song. This strategy also worked when we were first analyzing poetry in class which is why I decided to use it for my analysis. I did a good job at breaking down the song and finding meaning. I identified the literary terms and how they helped enforce the overall message of the song. What I needed to do for my final analysis was to use quotes to help further my argument for the message of the song. Along with that, I needed to strengthen my explanation to my personal connection with the song. Quoting direct lines that I connect with and that resonates with me would help with that. With this feedback, I was ready to take my analysis skills to the next level.
With each of my song analyses, I started by explaining how the songs resonated with me and why I felt that way. I then used the strategies that I’ve developed from past activities in class such as the poetry jigsaw and the individual written song analysis. I did some research online for each song to get a better understanding of the background and general idea of where the song was coming from. I then broke down the lyrics line by line and looked for where literary devices were used in each song. Along with that, I looked for lines that fit well with the message of the song. I used direct quotes from the lyrics with time stamps for each song to help support my analysis. Below is one of the analyses that I thought was stronger than the others.
The message of this song resonated with me because it’s about the importance of where you grew up. Where you grow up affects everything about you and the way that you are today. It affects the people around you, the food that you eat, what you learn about, and more. The song “Homecoming” is an ode to Kanye West’s home city of Chicago. It's about his childhood and how growing up in that area made him who he is today. The message of the importance of where you grow up is what spoke to me in this song.
In the song, there is talk about a girl named Windy at the beginning from the line “But, my name is Windy and I like to blow trees” and throughout the song, Kanye talks about his relationship with this person (0:33 – 0:36). Kanye West is personifying Chicago as this woman named Windy to help convey his message of the importance of the city he grew up in. The nickname for Chicago is also widely recognized as the Windy City so the personification used here makes sense. Kanye talks about his love for the city by saying “I like to show her off” (0:39 – 0:41). He is again using personification talking about his relationship with Chicago. He’s proud of the place where he grew up and not afraid to show it off. Another line that is said that shows the relationship between him and the city he grew up in is “I guess you never know what you got ‘til it’s gone” (1:56 – 1:59). Kanye realized the importance of the place where he grew up after he left to pursue his dreams of being a rapper. This connection to the place where you grew up is what resonated with me in this song. The importance of culture, people, and geography that you grow up in is what turns you into the person you are today.
The reason this analysis was so well put together and strong compared to the other analysis’s that I wrote was because my ability to analyze poetic devices shined the most through this analysis. With the research I conducted for this song, I was able to explain the use of personification well. I then explained how the use of personification helped emphasize the message of the song.
The message of this song is all about pride and the harm that it can cause. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Growing up going to a Catholic school, I’m familiar with the seven deadly sins and have learned about them while growing up. Humility is something that I care about and I try to be as humble as I can. I don’t like being boastful about things I'm lucky to have which is why I think I resonate with the meaning of this song.
From the very start of the song, you hear “Pride is the Devil” which is a metaphor and reference for pride being one of the seven deadly sins (0:11 – 0:12). A couple of lines after that, you hear “It left so many R.I.P” (0:19 – 0:21). What he’s saying with this is simply that pride can ruin people's lives. Pride can prevent self-growth and instead lead to the competition of being better than others. Pride destroys relationships from people not being able to admit to their wrongdoings. I feel that it’s especially hard to be humble when you become successful, fortunate and bloated in pride which is why J. Cole raps about remaining humble.
Towards the end of the song Lil Baby says “All this money comin’ in, it drives me crazy not to show it” (3:10 – 3:12). This line is very interesting because it’s a juxtaposition to what J.Cole was rapping about at the start of the song. It’s about the temptation to be boastful for what you have until pride consumes you. Temptation is shown over time so a part of the message is as time goes on it becomes more difficult to control your pride. Just like how at the start of the song you hear about how pride is the devil and as the song goes on you’d be crazy not to brag about the fortune that you’ve made. This idea of self-control and staying humble is why this song resonated with me.
I thought I did well at this analysis because it was a message that I connected with. I’ve realized that when you can connect with the message of the song, it makes it a lot easier to talk about it and discuss your ideas with others. What also made this analysis so good is throwing in my ideas of what I felt the lyrics meant. I got creative with my ideas saying that maybe the juxtaposition of ideas at the start and end of the song shows that over time pride is something that grows to then consume you in the end. Having creative ideas like this in my analysis also made the presentation at the end more engaging and also posed more questions to the audience.
The final presentation went well. I feel that I could have been more prepared for presenting on the main ideas that I wanted to talk. Nevertheless, I felt that I got my point across and I did well at not directly reading my notes and really getting down to what the song meant to me. It felt like the explanation and message for the songs I chose provoked some similar feelings that the audience could relate to. Below is the visual slideshow of reach song that I created to present with.
This project has helped me build up strategies to break down texts in a different way. It’s taught me how to find meaning in every line using literary devices. Along with that, I’ve learned how to come up with my own idea of the meaning behind the text and support it with quoted evidence. This project has also made me realize that there’s more to music than we initially think. I’m starting to look at music in a different way than before. The music that we listen to, although it may not think it represents us, it gives a good representation of who you are. Even if you enjoy a song but feel that you cant relate to the lyrics, there is probably something deeper with the song that you relate to such as the tone or hidden message.