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Dickinson Composed


Abstract This essay looks at how three living composers (Stefano Gervasoni, John Adams, and Édith Canat de Chizy) have set to music poems by Emily Dickinson. After describing Dickinson’s own approach to sounds, showing how she uses them to create a “tune of thinking” that allows her to expand perception into speculation, the essay focuses on the relationships these composers have created between text and music. It suggests that instead of using the expressive model favored by the majority of composers when setting texts to music, they favor structural methods of composition in order to translate Dickinson’s conception of sound. Layering, spaciousness, and movement are identified as musical ways of creating spatial-temporal structures in which the poems’ words become an absent center. While these musical compositions sometimes go so far as to challenge the possibility of understanding the poems, they prolong Dickinson’s structures of sound on a deeper level, enhancing her poetic capacity to think in verse.
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hal-03996227 , version 1 (19-02-2023)



Antoine Cazé. Dickinson Composed. Cristanne Miller, Karen Sanchez-Eppler. The Oxford Handbook of Emily Dickinson, 1, Oxford University Press, p. 425-442, 2022, ⟨10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198833932.013.3⟩. ⟨hal-03996227⟩
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