Thursday, April 03, 2014

That's poetry, man!

A woman's voice is finally heard again on Welcome to Night Vale, in the Weather to Episode 10.  Poet Rachel Kann lays down the beat with reversed drum sounds and the devil's interval for the bass line.  This isn't exactly a rap, closer to beat poetry in the style of Mike Myers:

Except it is better.  Kann's voice is shared by other women (I think her own voice overdubbed), but she is being authentic in her beliefs and in her art, unlike Myers' deliberate veil of hip indifference.  The beat underneath Kann's poetry is cool, and her speaking voice stays level, but her words are enthusiastic about her thoughts, about her art, about her life.  She genuinely wants to find true love, and believes she will find it.  She finds the glory in the moments in her life, like earl grey tea and Otis Redding.  I wouldn't call these small things, and she doesn't either.

Kann's poem is about balance, which allows polar opposite categories to exist.  The bass line is ominous, and the reversed drum beats create a disturbing soundscape.  But the beat is predictable, and fits well with the horn line.  The rhythm of the words avoids sing-song predictability, but still stays within the meter of the beat.  Right before Kann starts talking about succeeding in her love (3:25), the backwards drum sounds stop.  First the beat is kept by bongos and wood clicks, and then the drum beats are presented in regular direction (3:41).  The clarity balances the disruption of the starting drum sounds, just as the poem ends in a cyclic repeat of the opening lines. The doubled voices almost sound song-like, without presenting actual sustained pitch.  The bass line also drops the tritone, keeping only the lower note.  Perhaps the "fixing" of the drum beat and the loss of the devil's interval shows a journey of Kann's narrator/poet.  Maybe at the beginning she was intimidated by her knowledge/lack of knowledge, but in reminding herself of all the beauty she knows she turns around to a joy in her knowledge.

UPDATE:  Rachel Kann tweeted me to let me know that the producer of this track is Tack-Fu. Props to him.

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