mother goose’s melody is a piece of mine comprised of three short movements that are each a setting of a different nursery rhyme. what are children made of? is the second movement and probably the oddest of the lot.
I owe some of the inspiration for this movement to the creator of Calvin And Hobbes, Bill Watterson (Whom I admire to death). This comic, in particular, got the germs of my brain working overtime:
Every time I explain the concept to people they give me a sour ham’n’cheese look but I’ve yet to have my aspirations crushed. Choir music, in general, is extremely serious sixty percent of the time and way too serious for another twenty to thirty percent above that. The rest of the math is left for us to creep into like molten jelly bean on and in a cracked sidewalk. It’s with this knowledge of the terrain that I cast my ruffled hat into the ring of funny music.What are little boys made of? Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails. That’s what little boys are made of! What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of!
Naturally, a literal interpretation (Aside from being horribly sexist, one-sided, and uninteresting) would have been about 10 seconds long so I fluffed it up with my own brash verbage. I owe a great deal of debt to many of my friends who made suggestions and pointed out rhymes that were too offensive, “just awful”:What are boys and girls made of? Girls are made of shins and chins, of shins and chins up to their grins. Boys are made of teeth and feet, with teeth and feet they walk and eat. Girls are fleck with mildew, Boys with rotten cashew. Girls are made of prickly brine and turpentine and rancid lime, Odorous bile left out a while and plaguey parts with spazztic starts and boiled tarts of cankerous warts! That’s not what Girls are made of! Boys are made of snotty noses, smelly shorts, and toes-es, Girls are fit with tooth and nail, on tooth and nail they wail! Boys all smell like tree sap, Girls all reek of burlap. Boys are made of scabby knees, they feel like slime and smell like cheese, Flowering pus and gangrenous faces flayed with violent games they play to wound and maim! That’s not what Boys are made of! She is made of yellow snow, He is made of moldy roe, She is made of compost, He is made of sweaty hippo (decomposed), That’s what Boys and Girls are made of!
I remember once when I was dozing off at my desk at UBC, we poured (They poured, I oozed) over George Crumb and R. Murray Schaffer scores in the library. Both composers are famous for their imaginative notation. It’s easily dismissed as a gimmick by the skeptics and pessimists among us and I freely admit that I was among their number at that point in my life. But once I learned of their potential to be practical I was swayed. Observe these page and forgive the hiccup in the middle where the binding is: