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6. Tempo and Pacing

Matt read his poem, "Old Movie Credits." He was concerned with pacing, wanting his presentation to convey the range of feelings the poem itself captures in moviegoers as they watch classic movies. His tone was varied and engaging and he avoided the “sonic flatness” of Poet Voice, but as listeners we could tell he wasn’t satisfied. He felt constrained the first time he presented it and it took us awhile to realize we were all misguided by the notion that pacing equated to the same tempo throughout.

In music there is a Latin term, “rubato.” It means “stolen.” Applied to music, composers may stay within 4/4 time for example, but when they want to emphasize an emotional quality of a section, composers mark the score “rubato,” giving the musicians latitude to speed up or slow down, to steal from the regularity of the surrounding measures for those bars.

When Matt repeated his presentation, using a broader understanding of pacing and following the changing rhythms he’d written, "Old Movie Credits" came fully to life.

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