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[Detail] Wayne Perry playing fiddle, Crowley, Louisiana.

Folklore and Folk Music | Lyrics as Poetry | Humor | The Blues | Short Story | Oratory

Lyrics as Poetry

Included among folk music's many uses is its use as a poetic form. Students can analyze the lyrics of one of the collection's songs and consider how the poem is enhanced by its musical form. Have students choose lyrics transcribed in the Fieldnotes or song text and consider the speaker, plot, mood, tone, theme, imagery, and symbolism of each song. How does the alliteration, assonance, and meter of the poem contribute to its mood and meaning? What does the music add? Alternatively, students can explore symbolism across the collection or some portion of it. For example, they might explore symbols such as the devil and the railroad in the collection's blues songs. What other words do you see appearing frequently? Is there a consistent symbolic meaning you can assign to them? How are these words used in other types of songs? Why do you think these words took on symbolic meaning for the people who sang about them? For a formal outline of a lesson on blues music and poetry refer to a Teaching Unit in The Robert Johnson Notebook site at the University of Virginia.