Stages of Artistic Creation
First of all I will give a little definition of Romanticism (period, themes… ), then I will give a little definition of Rock music from the period I think that is the most representative of this link Romantic poetry/Rock music (1 ass’s to the beginning of the 1 ass’s). I will try to study the link between Rock music and Romantic poetry. This study will focus on how Rock music inherits the Romantic themes and myths, the phenomenon of creation, artistic creation and the importance of these notions in both.
I will try to analyses and compare several texts of Romantic poetry and Rock music to see more particularly hat those texts have in common, to draw a parallel between both genre. This study will also talk about the instrumental parts of the songs and what it brings in addition to the lyrics. Definition of Romanticism Romanticism is a genre which knew its golden era in the end of the eighteenth Century, until the sass’s/ 1 ass’s. At the time Romanticism was opposed to the age of Enlightenment, which was the period before the Romantics.Enlightenment was the age Of reason and science and Romanticism was a reaction against reason, against the suppression of feelings and emotion. The term groups together all artists from the poet to he painter to the musician, who embodied a set of new ideas which were radically contrasting with the intellectual and creative context of the enlightenment. We cannot refer to a Romantic school of artists, one of the characteristics of Romanticism is its variety and its lack of unity or harmony.
But we can say that all romantics claimed the need for an intensely personal expression of their creative talent, the individual self became central to the artistic process. William Wordsmith and Samuel Taylor Coleridge belonged to the first generation of the Romantics, both poets called for a more natural form of expression, corresponding to a spontaneous relationship both to nature and to the emotions of the human art and mind.For them imagination and creation were supreme, William Blake said ‘l will not reason or compare, my business is to create’. They were influenced by the French revolution and were for a long time radicals, but then felt disappointed by the French revolution and became reactionaries. The second generation Of Romantic poets was represented by Percy Abysses Shelley or John Keats, they felt betrayed by the first generation and remained radicals all their life.Romanticism can be defined under several themes, as the theme of solitude or loneliness, the theme of nature which was recurrent. Music was another recurrent theme just as the exotic theme.
Other important themes were emotion, love, the expression of feelings and death. Definition of Rock music We cannot give a unique definition of Rock music, since it is constantly shifting according to the time and the mood of certain periods. We can say that any Rock music genre is the heir of the Rock N Roll of the end of the sass’s and the sass’s.The greatest contribution to Rock music name from black people since it takes its origins in several genre and styles which were predominantly played by and for black people in the sass’s until the end of the sass’s, as well as during the time of slavery, such as blues, jazz, gospel or African traditional songs performed by slaves. White artists made a kind of patchwork of all these styles to create Rock music and the major white artist who exploded in the 1 ass’s was of course Elvis Presley, who was heavily influenced by black artists.Another great contribution to Rock music is the electrification, especially the electrification of guitar, bass or piano, as ell as amplification which also a key element in the creation Of the genre. One of the artist who was a key inspiration of Rock music was the Blues singer John Lee Hooker, whose influence on artists of the sass’s and sass’s was considerable, at a time when for example the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin or others took their inspiration in and played blues music.
The genre exploded in the 1 ass’s and the sass’s in Great Britain with bands such as the Beetles, Cream or the Rolling Stones and in the LIST with bands and artists such as Jim Hendrix, the Beach Boys or the Doors. This era saw he creation of many styles such as Progressive Rock (King Crimson, Pink Floyd… ), Psychedelic Rock (Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service…
), Folk Rock (Bob Dylan… ), Blues Rock (Grateful Dead… ) or the beginnings of Punk Rock (The Stooges.
.. ) and Heavy Metal (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple… Often inspired by the Romantic era and its themes, sense of artistic creation, process and imagination. This era was also considered for a large part as non- conformist and belonging to the counter-culture despite the fact that business, success and money was already taking over the genre.
The genre continued to live on and grow artistically and commercially in the sass’s and sass’s with Heavy Metal and its sub-genre with bands that became super commercial at a point of almost becoming brands, such as Nirvana, Metallic or Others.The Nan-conformism of Rock music was progressively disappearing to simply become part of a business, an industry. All genre of Rock music in their structure consist in a strong rhythmic structure (predominance of the drums, of the electric guitar, of the guitar riffs), a music which is made to be playing loud with also the importance given o the lead vocals (a strong and charismatic voice, often singing loudly with sometimes screams or yelling accompanying the already strong and harsh rhythmic structure).The link between Rock music and Romantic poetry The corpus of texts will be composed of three songs and six poems, Planet Caravan, released in 1 970 by the British Heavy Metal band Black Sabbath, composed originally of Oozy Osborne (lead vocals), Tony Loomis (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass and the songwriter of the band during the Osborne days) and Bill Ward (drums) and considered as one of the first band of theHeavy Metal genre, Stairway to Heaven, released in 1971 by the British band Led Zeppelin, composed originally of Robert Plant (lead vocals, songwriter), Jimmy page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass/keyboards) and John Bonham (drums) one of the first Heavy Metal band too, The Severed Garden, a poem written by Jim Morrison, The Solitary Reaper, published by William Wordsmith in 1807, Kabul Khan, published by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 181 6, To Autumn, published by John Keats in 1820 and Death and Death Is Here And Death Is There both written by Percy Abysses Shelley.First of all, Black Sabbath track Planet Caravan deals with a space travel through the immensity of the universe ‘We sailed through endless skies’ line 1 . We have no information about the space travelers, are they escaping the world or are they just exploratory ? I will try to give my interpretation later. One of the main theme of this track is the space theme, which we can put into a more global theme, the theme of nature, the songwriter of the band Geezer Butler used the space imagery and vocabulary, diverse elements of the universe are in this text, ‘stars’ line 2, ‘moon’ line 4, ‘earth’ line 7 or starlight’ line 1 1.
The theme of nature was very recurrent during the Romantic era, particularly for poets like William Wordsmith for example, who wrote a lot about nature and its beauty, as in one of his well-known work, The Solitary Reaper, with the presence of birds and animals such as the nightingale or the cuckoo bird, which are singing-birds as well as bees or hedge crickets in To Autumn of John Keats.During the Romantic era, poems often took place in or mentioned fields, gardens or forests, ‘single in the field’ in The Solitary Reaper, ‘gardens’ and ‘forests’ in Coleridge Kabul Khan and e can see that the trees are mentioned twice in Black Sabbath Planet Caravan. As Rousseau Once said, Romanticism is the return to nature. Another very important theme of the Romantic era was the theme of music, poets used language devices and games to bring the rhythm of music in their writings, as the typical wordplay of the time, the use of assonance and alliterations, which is a classic of all types of poetry and particularly of Romantic poetry.Assonance are used in The Solitary Reaper (-inning/-mound/ – main/-ill/-ore) as well as in To Autumn and in Kabul Khan (bees/cease, brook/ kook, soft/croft in To Autumn and enchanted/haunted, seething/breathing, ever/river in Kabul Khan). The theme of music is especially very important in The Solitary Reaper, since the young girl sings while she cuts the grain ‘reaping and singing by herself, the main function of this poem is to praise the beauty of music and its rhythm, the use of wordplay like assonance or alliterations allows also to highlight the beauty of language.The writer of Black Sabbath Planet Caravan used a lot of assonance, as skies/eyes/sighs, trees/tears, light/night or blaze/haze.
In addition to the music, Butler brought ore musicality in the song thanks to the use of this wordplay. This element and the fact that Geezer Butler wrote the song under a five-stanza structure, are evidences that this track is clearly in the direct inheritance of the Romantic poets, we can say that this track might perfectly have been a poem. Butler also used the color imagery in the song, several colors are present, as black, silver, purple, sapphire and crimson.I think Butler used this color imagery to help the listener to imagine what the travelers are seeing from their spaceship and to more easily transport him into the travel created by he writer. The instrumental part of the track was made to bring the listener into the spaceship With the travelers. Black Sabbath, despite its reputation as a pioneer of Heavy Metal, made this very calm and psychedelic song which sounds like we were in a dream, seeing what the travelers see and feeling what they feel.The moon (line 4) is here to reinforce this impression that maybe we are in a dream, since the moon is a symbol of dreams or of mystery, bringing to the song some mystic feelings reinforced by the instrumental part.
The way guitar and bass are played, the addition of some effects with the keyboard and especially the effect created with the voice of Oozy Osborne thanks to the tremolo of an organ system, confirm this idea of space travel and alien and dreamy atmosphere. This instrumental part also brings a kind of exoticism, which perfectly suits the matter of the track and its space exotic atmosphere.Exoticism was often part of the Romantic era, poets were often dealing with the farthest places on the earth, as Kabul Khan which talks about the Mongolia Emperor Kabul[ Khan living in the place of Canada. The Solitary Reaper deals with ‘Arabian sands’ and ‘farthest Hebrides’. The different elements of the universe are personified, they have human qualities, the shining stars are compared to eyes, the black night sighs like a human being the moon cries like a human being. Here the mourning and the grief of the earth and the moon are clearly expressed, and We will see why in the course of this study.The personification is clearly a way for Butler to express human feelings and emotions, which was another main theme of the Romantic era.
Diverse emotions and feelings were often expressed in Romanticism, like love, happiness, melancholy, grief, loss or pain, as in The Solitary Reaper, where the melancholy and the sorrow is expressed, ‘melancholy’, ‘plaintive’, ‘unhappy’, ‘sorrow, loss or pain’. Kabul Khan deals with love and more particularly sexual pleasure, ‘demon lover’, pleasure dome’ is a clear reference to sexual pleasure.Keats in To Autumn uses the love metaphor, he represents the season of Autumn making love with the sun ‘Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun’. In the end of the song, Butler deals with Mars ‘The crimson eye of great god Mars’, we can have two interpretations of this passage. Perhaps the writer is align about Mars as the planet, in this case there is another personification, the planet has a crimson eye and maybe she is watching the space travelers passing next to her.Or Mars here is the Roman god of war, symbolically referring to the planet Earth which is in war. So the space travelers fled the Earth and are seeing the planet in flames and ruins, they are simply escaping a warring world which is near to total destruction.
Black Sabbath was known for its activism against war, particularly in Vietnam, with songs like War Pigs for example. Planet Caravan is perhaps another song marked by the Vietnam AR, the black night sighs and the moon falls down in tears because they are seeing the planet Earth on the eve of destruction.Another possible interpretation Of this song is that the space travelers are in fact dead, maybe because of the war, and their souls are traveling through the universe, searching their path for peace and happiness in death because they could not find these in their living. The soul searching for happiness and for peace, as well as for the truth to some questions were also part of the myth of Romanticism and Butler here maybe decided to talk about this soul journey wrought the souls of his space travelers, dead and just beginning this voyage to peace.To put an end to the study of this parallel Black Sabbath Planet Caravan/ Romanticism poetry, we can say that the song is finally a kind of ode to the earth, a love letter to the earth and at the same time a love letter to music and its hath, as well as a love letter to language and a kind of cry for peace in the time of the Vietnam war, thanks to all the devices we have seen above, as well as The Solitary Reaper of Wordsmith or To Autumn of Keats were love letters to nature and its beauty.The theme of nature is also part of the Led Zeppelin’s track Stairway to Heaven, trees’, ‘forests’, ‘hedgerow’, as well as the theme of music with the use Of assonance (meanings/sings, feeling/crying/leaving Or soon/tune) which brings here in the same case as the Black Sabbath track more musicality to the song and highlights the beauty of language. The track in itself talks about music ‘there’s a songbird who sings’, ‘if we all call the tune’, ‘and if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last’ there is the presence of a piper ‘the piper will lead us to reason’, ‘the piper’s calling you to ion him’.
With Stairway to Heaven, I will try on my first interpretation of the song to draw a parallel between one of the main myth of Romanticism, which was the myth or the idea of the accomplishment of the individual’s mind and spirit through creation and imagination, and the call to creativity and imagination Led Zeppelin perhaps tried to do with the song. Maybe the lady is a metaphor of creation and imagination, which are in all of us, in all our brains.This track maybe deals with all the things we can think that must be the truth and that we don’t really question ‘sometimes all of our Houghton are misgiving’ which tries to point out that we can be wrong on everything we think that is the pure truth, or in the passage ’cause you know sometimes words have two meanings’ where I think Robert plant tries to put into question the understanding of language we have and to say that we must sometimes try to find the double meaning of some words.If we choose this interpretation, the stairway to heaven would be a metaphor representing the path to the enlightenment of our minds through creation and imagination as well as the search for truth. My second interpretation of the song will be the fight between materialism ND spirituality. The Romantics fought against materialism, they rejected materialism and preferred the quest to enlightenment of the mind and realization of the individual through spirituality, they believed in the powers of the mind and the soul to find the path to the truth, they believed in the self-realization of the individual through art.For them it was something we couldn’t buy, we had to acquire it through mental process (as long as it could be) or soul searching.
We have several images of materialism in Stairway to Heaven, the lady wants to buy the stairway as if it was something which had a cost, she believes in all the glitters and the gold ‘there’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold’, ‘Who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold’. She has the choice between materialism and spirituality to find her path to heaven ‘Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there’s still time to change the road you’re on’.Just after this passage, Robert Plant shows that her quest is vain, she would do better to stop trying to buy the stairway, since it is already present on earth, in nature ‘Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow, and did you know your tramway lies on the whispering wind ? ‘ and she must try to find it through spirituality. If we choose this interpretation then the piper would be here to tell the lady that what she is seeking is already here, in front of her eyes, he tries to tell her to do the right thing.We can say again here that Romanticism (and its deep concern to nature) and Rock music are closely linked, this track can be seen as a call to take care of nature, to stop living in a materialistic world. If we take care of nature we can find the stairway to heaven, this track has maybe an ecologic meaning too, a return to nature just as the Romantic era. But in the end of the song materialism wins, the lady finally chooses the easiest way to heaven, to happiness, she buys the stairway to heaven ‘And she’s buying the stairway to heaven’.
Concerning the instrumental part of the track itself, it is cut into two distinct parts. I think this song perfectly embodies one of the genre which is associated to Led Zeppelin, Progressive Rock. The first part gives the impression of a fairy tale or a short story which would be told on a slow rhythm and on a low voice, especially thanks to the peaceful atmosphere created by the flute and the acoustic guitar, a rhythm which gets a little more dynamic tit the apparition of electrification.The lyrics in this first part presents the lady and her intention to buy the stairway, it presents the first way to heaven, the materialistic choice. To me this part gives me the impression of a disillusioned or disappointed man who is telling this story, disappointed because of the lady’s intention. Then the second part gets more dynamic, electric, hard and loud, interpreted more loudly and with less disillusionment, when the lyrics show the spiritual way to heaven, as if it were a call to the lady to stop being materialistic and to see that all she wants is in front of her, in tauter.Then at the very end the instruments Stop, the call is over and the last words And she’s buying the stairway to heaven’ with no more music, show again the disillusionment of the storyteller in front of the lady’s choice, the materialistic way to get to heaven.
Apart from what we have seen above, death (and especially life after death) was one of the main concerns of the Romantic poets, they saw death as a way of obtaining a better life, a more satisfactory life. For them it was only after death that the individual could return to nature and to happiness.They noninsured death as perfect whereas life was for them incomplete and was of no value, they considered life as an obstacle into the way of one’s satisfaction and happiness. Percy Abysses Shelley was the poet who seemed the most concerned with death and it was the subject of a lot of his writings. Death occupies also a great place in the work of Rock artists, from the many styles and genre I have quoted in my little definition of Rock music to Rap music with artists like Outpace Shaker for example who were very preoccupied with death and often dealt with their own death in their songs.The Severed Garden by Jim Morrison deals with death and the poem was released as a posthumous track On a Doors’ album 7 years after Morrison death. Morrison was also a poet, he wrote a lot of poems which were often full of mysticism just as one of his model William Blake, and full of feelings and emotions about his rock star status and the world he was living in.
The Severed Garden contains several references to death and the word is mentioned twice.We can say that the title of the poem is in itself a reference to death, the severed garden can be a metaphor representing the world of he dead or more simply a graveyard. “The giant family’ is also think a metaphor of the world of the dead. Death is described as a frightening guest we absolutely don’t want to meet (like a scaring over-friendly guest’). Morrison wanted here to express the emotions of a man, (probably himself), of an artist who was sick of life, sick of the uncertainties and Of the cruelty of life and sick of what life imposes on everyone of us (I’m sick of doubt’, ‘cruel bindings’).I think that he wanted to say that he was sick of his fans, sick to be a rock star and even an icon, sick of people’s regards (I’m sick of dour faces tiring at me from the TV. Tower).
Then Morrison tells us that death is over anyone’s shoulders, death can fall on anyone of us at anytime, we don’t know when and how, and we don’t think about it just because we are often afraid of death (do you know how pale and wanton thrill Comes death on a strange hour, unannounced, unplanned for’). Shelley in Death Is Here And Death Is There perfectly shows this idea that death is ever. Here (all around, within, beneath, above is death’), death does not forget anyone and there are lives to take everywhere Death is busy everywhere’). Death is also presented as the tat to heaven and as an angel-maker of all of us, we are all supposed to go to heaven after death. Death sets us free Of all the things that corrupt humanity (money and materialism in general) by bringing us to a supposedly better world (death makes angels of us all’, ‘No more money, no more fancy dress, This other kingdom seems by far the best’).But in fact death is no better than life, it shows to us only its good part while it is in fact corrupted too (until its other jaw reveals incest’). Death is supposed to be free of any law and to be limitless, but it also obeys to the rule of nature, just as life does And loose obedience to a vegetable law), the vegetable law standing here I think for a metaphor of the law of nature.
Death is misleading us by obeying to the same rule as life obeys to and so it does not represent the total escape it seems to offer.Morrison seems seduced by death and the liberation he thinks it can give him, but in the end when the corrupted part of death is revealed to him, he refuses to die and prefers to live with his friends, truly alive friends, than to mislead himself in the false hopes death offers him. To keep on with Shelley poems about death, the lexical field and images of death were very used in his work, the word ‘death’ is in both titles, just as ‘die’, ‘the dead’, ‘an open grave’ or ‘tombs’ in the first poem have chosen simply entitled Death. They all are gone’ is a typical euphemism meaning ‘they all are dead, they all are gone to the world of the dead’. In Death, Shelley tells us that nothing remains after death, our dead friends, dead lovers are just souvenirs and sometimes what people can remember of us is a name on an epitaph (those vacant names alone…
These tombs – alone remain’). The youth calls the dead and of course has no answer, which shows that there is o life after death, there is no superior force who will come and talk to the youth, all that we do after death is decaying day after day and returning to dust.In Death Is Here And Death Is There, we can say that for him, life was just another kind of death, a slower death, since we are living with the knowledge that death can come and take us overtime and everywhere, death is like a constant burden we all have to carry and everything we do, everything we are is constantly threaten by death and die one day (death has set his mark and seal, on all we are and all we feel, on all we know and all we ear’).