This piece is a setting of Cumming’s poem don’t get me wrong oblivion, a long-form poem characterized by distinct paragraph breaks, separating out chunks of text in discreet parts across the page. It was this specific layout that lent itself nicely to the breaking-up of this poem into three parts for three female voices. It seemed to me that each chunk of text might have been coming from a unique perspective, and thus, I broke the text up first, choosing which voice would sing which chunks of text.
From there, I applied my letter-pitch substitution technique of composition to create a tone row and used that tone-row to compose the entirety of the piece.
You’ll see in the accompanying picture that I chose the words “New York” as the basis for the tone row. My interpretation of the poem, though there are references to a romantic encounter between to people, is that this relationship is between the narrator and an idea, rather than another person. The sentiments expressed in the poem were befitting of those I feel toward New York City, and this is why I chose “New York” to create the tone row.
It should also be pointed out that only four times do two or more voices sing together. The work is mostly a single melodic line, and my reason for this is that the piece is narrated by a single individual with multiple viewpoints. When more than voice appears simultaneously, it is because I felt the narrator was having his/her position challenged or mocked by an internal, subconscious voices that rarely rear their heads.