It’s almost a cliché that music and poetry are cousins. Yet the actual forms music takes within poetry are unclear, even contested. Fiona Sampson’s Music Lessons outlines some of the parallels between the two, using ideas and examples from Martin Heidegger to J.S. Bach, Emily Dickinson to Leonard Cohen, and George Herbert to Julia Kristeva. Her first lecture, ‘Point Counter-point’, uses melody to suggest a link between poetic line, phrase and breath. ‘Here is my space’ explores how ‘pure’, abstract forms can be created in time in the same way that they are created in space. Finally, ‘How strange the change’ looks at sensuous apprehension and the pleasure principle.
Fiona Sampson was first a concert violinist, then studied at the Universities of Oxford, where she won the Newdigate Prize, and Nijmegen, where she received a PhD in the philosophy of language. Her latest of seventeen books is Rough Music, shortlisted for the 2010 Forward and T.S. Eliot Prizes (Carcanet). In 2009 she received a Cholmondeley Award and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She is the editor of Poetry Review.