The Tyger (William Blake poem set to music)

Well here I go making another cat video! It might be my way of dealing with the fact that I love cats but my beloved partner is allergic and so it’s best for us not to have one in our house.

I’ve always loved this William Blake poem and have tried a couple previous times to set it to music. This week I succeeded (in my estimation). Would be so fun to have Nathan (the aforementioned allergy sufferer) add a wall of guitars but his (non-music) work life has gotten busier so he doesn’t often have the time.

So I used this little hack he taught me – I recorded my acoustic guitar onto two separate tracks – one from a condenser microphone for the acoustic sound, and one from a line plugged into the guitar. I then added my recording software’s default electric amp sound to the guitar line track, which gave me an electric guitar sound to mix along with the acoustic sound. I tried to mark this visually by flipping the video of the “electric” guitar as that track came up higher in the mix. (Flipping also looked cool when I overlaid it with the bass video.)

The video also incorporates some public domain artworks of tigers, which I’ll list in order of their appearance below the words of the poem (below the video). I found all of the art on wikiart.org.

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water’d heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tyger, tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

“Tiger’s Head” (Abbott Handerson Thayer, 1874)
“Tiger and Snake” (Eugene Delacroix, 1862)
“Tiger and Lion Hunting” (Peter Paul Rubens, 1615 or 1616)
“A Young Tiger Playing With Its Mother” (Eugene Delacroix, 1831)
“Tiger” (Ito Jakuchu, 1755)
“Tiger” (Utagawa Kunisada, 1830)
“Tiger” (Eugene Delacroix, 1830)

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