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Helen Seymour


Helen Seymour is an artist and musician living in Liverpool. She plays bass and guitar, singing with and writing for a band called Sonnenberg. 




Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?


A: I used to think that one could use poetry as a starting point for song lyrics. This can be true, but in general it seems that the words need to be simplified and edited. I mostly write lyrics alongside the music, and the rhythm and mood of the music dictate a great deal the words and sentence structure used. If you read most lyrics they don't scan like a poem, and you get a sense that it's only part of the picture. So no I donít think of my lyrics as poems. I do write poems, but this is a separate exercise from song/lyric writing. I find it very liberating. Sometimes these poems can inspire or even be used wholesale for lyrics, but there is often some editing needed. 


Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?


A: Sometimes this can be important, but not always in too rigid a way. The rhythm of the music is enhanced by good rhyming, and gives the listener a sense of satisfaction. It is perfectly possible to pen lyrics that don't rhyme, but in this case the song lyrics often need space to breath within the music.


Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse?


A: No I donít think they have to fit within a ridged format.  It can help, depending on what you are trying to achieve with the song.  It seems that songwriters as they get more experienced and achieve success and confidence can start to write more free verse. Iím thinking about songwriters like Joni Michel and Kate Bush, who in later years have become much more fluid in their writing.


Q:  When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?


A: Sadly I canít remember much poetry being read at my school. My mum sometimes recited poems though, and this was fairly musical.  I believe that hearing Shakespeare was a strong unconscious influence on me. The way the English language could open out feelings, emotions, and at the same time come to the point so perfectly was a fascination to me. As a child (and sometimes still) I like to speak my thoughts out loud as poems or verse using old language. It is so rich and refined, and has a natural musical refrain.


Q:  Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?


A: My farther is a published writer of mainly practical/lifestyle books, about living self-sufficiency and environmental issues. He sometimes writes poems or (doggerel) as he called them. I have written a song based on one of these, which worked fairly well. It was a poem about the destruction of our planet ďby the men of greedĒ. Very emotive but surprisingly not wholly negative. I donít like to write material that is one dimensional or too depressing.


Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?


A: I think itís about how the brain interacts with the music and beat. A strong melody and/or rhythm can move the mood and/or body very quickly.





copyright © Helen Seymour