mother goose’s melody – clap your hands and stuff

mother goose’s melody is a piece of mine comprised of three short movements that are each a setting of a different nursery rhyme. clap your hands is the third movement.

This movement is as much as possible meant to be a mirror image of the first movement.  Like ring around the rosie it’s all about moving from one extreme of tessitura to the other.  It’s a barn-burner begins low and sober, in the men’s voices, and builds up to a shatter-climax of a chord on the last beat.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
If you’re happy and you know it, And you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
 
 

Also noteworthy is the fact that the while the first movement features high voice types, this one features the lows.  ring around the rosie begins with a back and forth with the tenors and sopranos while clap your hands is all about altos and basses.  One of the big draws for me with choral music is the idea that everybody gets to have a melody.  I began my musical life as a subservient drummer so I feel the tinge of dissatisfaction along side my sisters in the alto section as they plonk through their one note melodies.

 

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Apples and Onions, Sigur Rós and Schöenberg, And The Constant Reinvention Of The Wheel

If you were to bite into an onion and taste an apple I bet you’d have a hard time attenuating your praise for said onion.  You’d also likely experience a rush of emotion akin to relief and make a sound not unlike a bag of cement flying harmlessly past your earlobe.  After all, it’s not everyday one gets to enjoy the sweetness of rosacean nectar while being forcibly fed a bag of onions.

An interesting thing about this language contraption, or rather this contraption we’ve been convinced to call language, is that it’s easy for anyone to contrast a pile of gibberish with perfectly ordered prose and be able to declare with as little hesitation as they have credentials that one is language while the other is a mass of a mess.  A train of thought certainly follows that gibberish is gibberish;  I declare that nothing interesting ever happens on that train.  The real meat of the nectar is to be quaffed by allowing gibberish’s infectious properties to run wild-but-checked like eleventeenth stage compositional cancer.  In the proper context, a raft of flotsam and jetsam can float you over a fourteen volume sea of pages that seem to gesture rudely to the finite by broadening even after the author‘s demise.  As often as not, the word doesn’t exist to elucidate your point and a unique opportunity is to be found in employing the more guttural gestures of the pen when stabbing to the point.  Douglas Adams knew it and addressed it in The Meaning Of Liff.  When supported by well ordered prose, even a flamblastamagoo of characters can have meaning and moreover, can cut to the point faster with the added advantage of personal colour.

In order to keep my curdling brain from melting and pouring out my nostrils, I like to draw parallels between the worlds of text without music and music which sometimes has text.  They often run parallel to one another in facepalmingly conventional ways.  Examples that have at least something to do with what I mentioned above include groups like Sigur Ros‘s untitled album of 2002 being written entirely with an invented language or Arnold Schoenberg‘s not-as-academic-as-you-might-think adventures in pantonality.  The touch of personal color that Sigur Rós and Schoeberg bring to brunch can be as surprising and memorable as onions that tastes like apples and it’s the musical moments where their worlds collide unwholesomely with our own that we have an opportunity to realize that the horizon isn’t as near as we think it is.  There’s an infinite world waiting to be discovered in an immortal and fervent tumble off the edge of the sea.

On April 19th, the Vancouver Chamber Choir will serve up an onion of my own called mother goose’s melody.  I’ll disgorge more details over the coming weeks leading up to the concert as I expect it to be extra sweet.