In 1943, modern dancer and choreographer Jean Erdman presented "The Transformations of Medusa, Forever and Sunsmell" with a commissioned score by John Cage and a spoken text from the title poem by E. E. Cummings, sponsored by the Arts Club of Chicago. Erdman also choreographed "Twenty Poems" (1960), a cycle of E. E. Cummings' poems for eight dancers and one actor, with a commissioned score by Teiji Ito. It was performed in the round at the Circle in the Square Theatre in Greenwich Village.
Numerous composers have set Cummings' poems to music:
- In 1961, Pierre Boulez composed "Cummings ist der dichter" from poems by E.E. Cummings.
- Aribert Reimann set Cummings to music in "Impression IV" (1961) for soprano and piano.
- Morton Feldman (1926-1987) in 1951 composed "4 Songs to e.e. cummings" for soprano, piano and cello, using material from Cummings' "50 poems" of 1940: "!Blac", "Air", "(Sitting In A Tree-)" and "(Moan)".
- The Icelandic singer Björk used lines from Cummings's poem "I Will Wade Out" for the lyrics of "Sun in My Mouth" on her 2001 album Vespertine. On her next album, Medúlla (2004), Björk used his poem "It May Not Always Be So" as the lyrics for the song "Sonnets/Unrealities XI."
- The American composer Eric Whitacre wrote a cycle of works for choir titled The City and the Sea, which consists of five poems by Cummings set to music.
- Others who have composed settings for his poems include Dominic Argento, William Bergsma, Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, John Cage, Romeo Cascarino, Aaron Copland, Serge de Gastyne, David Diamond, John Duke, Margaret Garwood, Daron Hagen, Michael Hedges, Richard Hundley, Barbara Kolb, Leonard Lehrman, Robert Manno, Salvatore Martirano, William Mayer, John Musto, Paul Nordoff, Tobias Picker, Vincent Persichetti, Ned Rorem, Peter Schickele, Elie Siegmeister, Aki Takase, Hugo Weisgall, Dan Welcher, and James Yannatos, among many others.