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Beck Siàn

   

Beck Siàn is related to English singer, Kate Bush, and is currently on tour in the U.K. and Europe. Her music is a blend of Celtic/World/Gothic/Fantasy Folk. Information, gig and touring details can be found at her website.

 

   

 

Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?


A: Yes, I do think of my lyrics as poems. Often my songs begin as poetry. The words usually come into existence before the music. I write many, many poems. Sometimes I'll find a nice little melody on the guitar, then I'll look through some of my poetry, and find that one, two or even three poems can be fitted to the music and the mood. I might use a complete poem, or chop up pieces of poetry, and stick them back together in a different sequence, and suddenly I'll have the makings of a song. For me, creating a mood, or painting a picture with words, is what songwriting and poetry are about.


Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?


A: Yes, I do think it's important. I don't think it's ESSENTIAL, and not all of my songs have a rhyming or rhythmical pattern, but I do think it's generally important in songwriting to have rhyming words or sounds, at least in a portion of the song. Repetition is also important. Rhyme and repetition help to create a catchy and memorable song.


Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?


A: Similar answer to the previous question really. I think that if you look at a lot of really popular, commercially successful and memorable songs, you will find that they have at least some of these elements of recognised song structure. But that doesn't mean that you can't successfully create a song from “free verse”. It also depends on who you are writing the song for, and why you are writing it. If you wish to gain radio airplay and commercial success, then it makes sense to study the song-writing structures used most often in commercial songs, and try to use a similar formula. But if you are writing for yourself, and your own enjoyment, then there are no rules that need to be adhered to.

My Unfurling album is a concept album - I wanted to paint a picture of a "Haunted Forest". If you can imagine that you are walking through a forest—it is green and damp and misty. Birds are singing busily, and bright shafts of dusty light pierce the foliage above, and everything is beautiful and healing. Then suddenly you find yourself in a dark patch of forest, where the light struggles to get through the branches and the birds are eerily silent. You feel vulnerable and isolated, and perhaps in the presence of something ”otherworldly” and ancient. I tried to capture that feeling of light and dark in the forest, using sixteen songs, many of which began as poetry. There were no rules for this album—no strict formula for the structure of the songs. It was all about the theme; the concept.


Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?


A: Yes, absolutely. I remember adoring a Mike Oldfield song called 'Moonlight Shadow', sung by Maggie Reilly, as a school-kid. I really loved that song. The lyrics featured a highwayman, who was shot, and became a ghost. So then when I discovered a poem called 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes, I could relate to it much more powerfully, as I connected it to the Mike Oldfield song. Coincidentally, 'The Highwayman' poem has now been adapted into a song by Loreena McKennitt, on her Book Of Secrets CD. There is definitely always a strong connection between story, song and poem for me—one often leads to the others. Another example is Kate Bush—she was inspired by Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights to write her hit song of the same title. I was then inspired by the song to read all of the works of the three Brontë sisters. I then fell in love with Jane Eyre in consequence, which inspired me to write several poems, and a song called 'Thornfield' ... so it goes on and on ...


Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?


A: Oh yes, definitely. I love reading the poetry of the Brontë sisters, Thomas Hardy, Yeats, Rupert Brooke, William Blake, Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred, Lord Tennyson (just to name a few). All of these poets write of nature, seasons, loves lost, dark moods, ghosts and fairies, myth and legend. These subjects all influence my songwriting and, therefore, the poems penned by these people have influenced my lyrics.

I have a song called 'Moss' on my Unfurling CD, which came about because I love the words of 'The Choric Song', which is part of a poem called 'The Lotus Eaters', by Tennyson. I wanted to put the words to music so that I could sing them, and “feel” them in a musical sense, so I worked out a melody. The words didn't quite lend themselves to the music that I had composed, as they were, so I had to do some chopping and rearranging, and add a verse of my own, to create the song. I hope Tennyson approves!


Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?


A: Hmmmnnn ... well, perhaps it is because a song can appeal to more of the senses—there’s the melody and rhythm of the music, which you can dance and move to, plus the enjoyment of listening to the lyrics, and then you can memorise the words and sing along, plus if there's a video clip to go with the song, it becomes a visual treat too.


When I was a child, my favourite poetry books were the ones that were beautifully illustrated, so you had the visual stimulation, as well as your imagination, to compliment the words. As an adult, I love to read dusty old tomes of serious poetry, but I need to dip in and out of them, because too much at once is emotionally too “heavy” and exhausting for me. I love to hear poetry read by someone else (preferably the poet), because then it becomes a little bit like a song, and you absorb it by listening rather than reading.




 

copyright © Beck Siàn