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I brought this up in my previous journal entry, and there have been some questions. I know there's not a whole lot about it out there, so hopefully this can shed some light.

Sometime in the 1930s, a man called N. Senada put forth an almost bizarre new idea he called the Theory of Phonetic Organisation [1]. Originally applied to composed music, the theory states that "the musician should put the sounds first, building the music up from [them] rather than developing the music, then working down to the sounds that make it up."

N. Senada collaborated with a few obscure bands and musicians in the 70s, most notably with the Residents (who, themselves, collaborated with and helped launch many bands in that time, thus further helping Senada's theory spread throughout music).

Through this, phonetic organisation became altered slightly and applied as much to the words as it was to the music. The main backbone of the theory was still upheld, and while bands experimented with using recording equipment (rather than instruments) to make music, they also began playing with the sounds, rhythms, and patterns that language itself makes. Suddenly, music was being released with an entirely new and pioneering sound. The songs didn’t make any sense unless you sat down with the record sleeve in your hands and listened to the album two or three times. This wasn’t necessarily because the bands were high when they wrote their songs, but because the individual words or line structures were more important than the overall meaning. A fairly tame, by comparison, example comes to us from Renaldo and the Loaf, in Is Guava a Donut? [2]

Is Dover a seaport?
Sure, it’s a seaport
Has Grover a passport?
I hope so
Do gophers eat peanuts?
I’m not sure
Is guava a donut?

This one seems to almost be calling deliberate attention to the nonsense in the lyrics. But N. Senada’s original collaborators, the Residents, took this idea and built an entire career on it.

She scurries hurries worries that
The wicked will receive
Their candy from a handsome man
And coffee from a thief;
She gazes at an hourglass and
Asks it if it cares,
And then she wonders if the lizard
Likes his lettuce rare
[3], [4]
– from Lizard Lady

Why the hell am I telling you all this? I realise immediately and even admit that this sort of music is not for everyone. But let’s ignore the music for a moment, and focus just on the words. Why should just a bunch of self-proclaimed aging hippies get to have all the fun? Sure, Senada’s theory was written for music, but when he devised it, he had nothing to say about the words – just the composition. Take out the composition entirely, and you’re left with a striking visual poetry with very unique rhythmic structures. Even the singing Resident (or whatever he was calling himself at the time) delivered the lines in more of a spoken-word format, rather than singing them.

And so I have a proposition for all of you. Start experimenting with your words. The goal here is not to have a poem (or even a story, if you prefer prose) that follows a narrative, but to focus on how the words sound when placed against one another. The story and imagery will follow in its own natural order, creating itself.  Come on; let’s put the ‘deviant’ back in deviantART and play around in the obscure.

1. N. Senada on Wikipedia
2. Renaldo and the Loaf – Is Guava a Donut?
3. The Residents – Lizard Lady
4. Duck Stab / Buster and Glen lyrics page – Rz Web

  • Listening to: the Residents - Plains to Mexico
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marsneedswomen Featured By Owner May 16, 2014
<3 totally!
SayaStarshine Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
A few years ago, I wrote a poem like that. I didn't plan it as articulately as you explained the theory just now, but it was the idea. Its not a very good poem, being old as it is, but now I am inspired to try again.

The poem is A String of Pretty Words. [link]
tetemeko Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2010
I'm game.
I was hooked from the first example.
leoraigarath Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010  Professional Writer
It was definitely an interesting read. I add this to the list of articles on my Resources on the Side list. :nod:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Come on; let’s put the ‘deviant’ back in deviantART and play around in the obscure.

I totally agree with that statement, and thank you for sharing this. :)
Lit-Twitter Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Chirp, it's been twittered. :)
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Submitted on
July 23, 2010


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