During my vacation, I got started on composing "Poetics" for the Dark Strings Duo consisting of Heidi von Bernewitz, viola and Rob Nairn, double bass. I took a class on short form poems during the fall through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Yavapai College and had fun learning the forms and writing some poetry. This inspired me to try to translate some of these forms into music.
I started with a poem form known as a pleiades which has seven lines with six syllables per line. Each line starts with the same letter. I translated this into a music form by having seven phrases, each with six notes and all starting on the note "A". In addition, I used one of my poems as a interpretive inspiration so that the phrases represent the ideas of the poem. Here is the poem:
Acceptance Pleiades by Sy Brandon ©2011 Sy Brandon
Aching hearts long for peace
Among troubled chaos
Answers seem elusive
Always a step ahead
Avoiding outreached hands
Away I turn from them
And then they come with ease.
Like most composers, I took liberties with the musical form. The viola's first six notes reflect the first line and the pizzicato notes in the double bass in measure 2 add punctuation. The second line begins immediately afterwards in the viola and is imitated in the double bass resulting in four versions of the idea (end of m. 2 to the end of m. 4) with only the first two starting on "A". In m. 5-6, the viola reflects the 3rd line of the poem. It does not start on "A", but the accompaniment in the double bass does. The line "Always a step ahead" is represented through pizzicato displacements between the two instruments starting at m. 7, each six notes long. This occurs three times, each one starting on "A" but the lead is alternated between the two instruments and the rhythm varied. M. 13-17 contains lines 5 and 6 of the poem, both in the viola and both starting on "A". The double bass plays free material that compliments the viola line. The last line of the poem is reflected from m. 18 to the end. It starts and ends on "A". I tried to let the form and the poem guide me but not restrict me.
Starting with this blog post, I am using flip pdf technology. It uses Flash Player that most browsers come with. You will be hearing an mp3 of sampled sounds playing the music and you will see the score at the same time. You will need to turn the pages by clicking on the arrows at the appropriate time. To see and hear what I have discussed, go to http://www.cooppress.net/poetics_blog.html.
As always, your comments are appreciated.