Five Songs of War



A collection of five Cummings text settings (nos. 29-33 in 2014’s¬†100 Poems¬†project).

Each poem make references to war, whether subtle or overt. In order to capture a more visceral spirit, much of the text is spoken rather than sung. I believe this focuses the listener’s ear directly on the text itself without first having to bypass any melodic distractions.

In this work, all performers are involved in the playing of percussion instruments, most of which are non-pitched. The instrumentation is as follows:

Percussion I: vibraslap, slapstick, medium-low temple block, 2 tambourines (1 mounted, 1 unmounted) pitched crystal glasses, 2 triangles, 2 bongos, snare drum, tenor drum, and large tam-tam
Percussion II: vibraslap, slapstick, guiro, sleighbells, pitched crystal glasses, 2 triangles, snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, small tamtam, and large tamtam
Tenor: slapstick, sleighbells, 2 bongoes, and large tamtam
Soprano: small triangle and large tamtam

Additionally, all performers use their voices (whether to sing or speak), and therefore I’ve requested that both percussionists be male, so that their voices will be of the desired timbre.

Poems used:

i. o
ii. lis
iii. first Jock he
iv. look at this)
v. it’s jolly