A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous segment (a movement) that illustrates or evokes the content of a poem, tale or novel, artwork, landscape, or other (non-musical) source. Tone poems are often shorter than symphonies but even if they are not, they still tend to be longer than operas.
The word "tone" here does not have its usual meaning of "sound," but rather refers to the overall mood or atmosphere of the work. Thus, a tone poem is any musical composition with a clearly defined structure and length similar to that of a symphony but which will always leave room for interpretation by the performers as to how to express themselves within the formal constraints of the work.
Tone poems can be written in many different styles, from classical to modern, lighthearted to sentimental. However, they all share certain characteristics: most notably a focus on form over substance, and a desire to evoke a specific emotional response in the listener.
Some famous tone poems include: Debussy's La Mer (The Sea), Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane) and Maurice Ravel composed several works in this genre including his own piano version called Le Tombeau de Couperin (The Tomb of Couperin).
As the previous answer illustrates, "music of poetry" generally refers to components of a poem other than the actual words; nevertheless, as you will see below, words also include melody. The melody of a poem is the way it sounds, and the simplest place to hear it is in the rhythm of a poem. A poem's rhythm is the pattern of stresses (high notes) and pauses (low notes). Rhythms can be regular or irregular, but they always have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Besides its melody, each stanza of a poem has a distinct tone or mood. This is most obvious in poems with more than one stanza, such as sonnets, but even within a single-stanza poem, certain lines or parts of lines may be louder or softer than others. The difference lies in the meter: shorter syllables follow one after another without any gaps between them while longer ones are separated by spaces.
By "the music of poetry," we typically imply all of the nonsemantic portions of a poem's language, including not just its reasoned prosody, but also some aspects of its syntax. These include sound patterns such as alliteration and assonance that enhance the emotional effect of the poem; wordplay such as metaphor and simile that often create images for the reader to associate with his or her own experiences; and grammatical features such as indirection (using pronouns and adjectives rather than names) and enjambment (continuous lines without punctuation), which encourage the reader to follow the flow of the words.
The term was coined by Robert Graves in his 1939 book The Music of Poetry. He defined it as "all the parts of speech other than verbs, nouns, and adjectives...[which] when used with feeling can add greatly to the power of a poem." Graves went on to say that this aspect of poetic language could not be explained scientifically and that it should therefore be considered an art form.
Since then the concept of "poetic language" has become even more broad, with many scholars including imagery, allusion, and even history as part of their definition.
Tone is communicated via every part of a poem, including imagery, meaning, and rhythm. Consider the following two poems on death. The words used in a poem on poverty color the meaning and indicate the poet's attitude toward the impoverished. The rhythm of a poem can also influence its tone. For example, a funeral march or dirge has a slow, solemn rhythm that is appropriate for a poem about loss.
Tone is an important element in writing poetry. Without raising your voice or using profanity, you need to be able to express yourself clearly and simply with language that communicates your feelings and ideas.
Tone is defined as "the overall feeling that results from the interaction of thought, expression, and emotion" (The Columbia Encyclopedia). In other words, tone is how someone or something is felt rather than what they say. For example, if I say "I hate math," my tone would be angry. However, if I wrote "Math is my favorite subject," my tone would be sarcastic. Tone is also responsible for the difference between these two sentences: "We have a dog" and "Dogs are our pets." The first sentence expresses an idea, while the second describes a relationship. This difference in grammar helps distinguish fact from opinion.
In addition to thought and expression, emotion is necessary to create proper tone.