It´s very early still; mist on the garden trees caused by ( Mussolini´s fault? ) Lake Corbara, the older farmers insist.It´ll rise later as the killing sun moves in. Yes. In a world of hype. In an age of scopology, of gawking, seeing is believing. In this century of ( apparently ) looking ( – it´s too lazy even to be and become reading, registering, replying with eyes wide shut to any deeper reality ) the visual, therefore film, video, you-and-me Tubing and FaceDeBooking and Twittering and Teething and Twitting reign supremo. So the art of listening hasn´t a look in, the arts of sound, of sounding, of music in any even modest form ( I forget De New Dirt, Technowrapping or shtomping or electro-screeching, yowling of all imperious or impertinent kinds… ). No interest. No presence in a world of peeping, gawking hype. Hype on. The mist also rises. The sun is sneaking.
It´s all very well, young Bach´s ” Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen” in BWV 82 ( Fische-Dieskau´s singing thereof unforgettable, yes; now it´s his eyes… So what ? ). To die. To what, did you say ? This rationally insoluble question is as old as the Neanderthaler, the cave-dauber, the three-note composer, on the swan-bone flute from 10,000 B.C. Catal Huyuk.It spawned religion, art,cathedrals, laws ( you could argue) and mores and more. Slumber?
“Das Nichts nichtet ” ? That is it ? Or that´s not it ? Be silent, our Celleno cats, as the light slides snidely.
A JULY HAIKU FOR WINTER:
The ice-berg´s calving Listen ! A gigantic crack
Splits its cold crawl
( Frank Corcoran 5.7.2012 )
The day is as long
As the bored crow´s long black beak
The crow knows no time
See: its dirty beak opens
In no time at all
The National Chamber Choir has recorded Frank Corcoran´s ” Caoine ” for the Irish Choral Anthology.
Good news for modern man. Modern choral singing. The pure drop, solo soprano against a massed backdrop, hushed tenors and basses crafted, the melodic line timeless.
Crawling on from birth
To stem and leaf and petal
Then comes its glory
Eden was. Now it
Awaits its green transcendence
Tensed time is crawling
With the caterpillar´s hairs
Come, God of Insects
The pain is terrific; waiting to get pregnant with the next musical work. eg. for fractal tuning-fork, frogs´real-time chorus and festival orchestra ? Or something smaller, perhaps ? A humble Harp Solo, a miniature Bassclarinet Solo ? But what has been left to say? Sing? ( Have I already sung it ? Self-repetition is no fun. ) There is then another terrific pain, that of waiting for a premiere or crawling towards a work´s performance ( – will they ? won´t they? The money? Where ? Who´ll prepare? )
So there´s two pains now for the price of one.
From the ink-well of the sky trees enjoy now and again a pint in interdendric peace.They slurp, imbibe, quaff that blue-stuff . Great blossomers fill their gobs with heavenly dark juices which angels ( with nothing better to do ) have been quietly brewing for some time now. Trees sate their selves. They grow heavy with clotted goblets . A pint of skyÂ´s your only man, oaks, winking at each other over beaded brims of ink-wells. Californian grand boles let down that liquid, a litre of sky-ooze. Your European dendronÂ´s not far behind as the elms fill parched, treey orifices with watery white-blue on certain days weÂ´ve all had, as a contrast to chlorofilled greens and their woody atmosphere, forests smelling of harmless mushrooms or harmless animalsÂ´ spoor in their gloaming.
Out of heavenly vessels that once were on village-children´s pre-Famine desk-tops trees do drink. A lot. Their boles and blossom and fancy foot-work need the dancer´s drought, its satiation. Enough is not enough of the high atmospheric. They enjoy oral and labial quenching, sloughing and guzzling down Heaven’s ink-wells´liquid. Yup !
TreesÂ´beaks love. Trees are deep-down more skim-milk blue than greenish sap. From tap-room to toe-lips rhey crave and slaver. Tiny trees ape their giants´ bibulosity, From high pots trees accept injected true-blue. I thirst.
An elder was heard; a high birch inclined in order to dabble in the real ould mountainy sky-dew. An enormous sky-watcher, perhaps a dinosaur-tree,would go insane for even the lighter stuff, easier to pour, mixed in with skim-milk . Injest, trees. Digest these oaks´ beastings. Make pleasurable drink-smacking up there near your heavenly buckets of this potage. Sip please! No gulping, we´re trees, all arboreality , sylvan or heavy drinkers. Hear the ground-swelling of this oceanic swilling. Look skywards, trees anonymous. From these troughs and those stratospheric wells of ink a mantle of blue for their botanic brewery. Trees tongue their ink as a swaddling child its clouds´ooze. Out of this rarified high air the foggy dew is trees´due. Trees do, yes. Wooden beaks pleasured. Unsawn branches soar towards the bursting amniotic. They empty ink-wells , their very inner veins now very fullish with pan-treey superfluity, almost sick with this heavenly milk. Noble trees, a grá for blob and droplet, the blue dropped note.
If Orpheus had had three saxophones to hand, he also would have availed of their power to mourn. Or an accordeon. Still, it´s important to get rid of the bleating, the whine the old cow died on. Music can lament alright, but it has to get rid of the merely private. While it also affirms, it is bewailing not so much any particular “Dies Irae” as the very passing of the very time of which music is made. Even without the double reeds or any particular register the composer´s plangency begins its unsettling work. In Vasari´s Corridor in the Uffizzi is a fine Roman copy of the Greek original ” Marsyas Being Flayed Alive”. Apollo, a string-player, takes his awful revenge on the poor wind-player. My one-movement work, ” Quasi Un Lamento”, my sound-sculpture, screams , moans; the seven wind-instruments easily overpower anything the four strings can sob; my piano and percussion add a third element of violence. The accordeon at the close can whimper its Requiem “Kyrie”, five tones, Doh-Re-Mi-Fa-Mi, a fundamental archetype of Western music.
And QUASI UN CANTO for Full Orchestra, then. “I don´t like music but I love to sing!” was Leonard Bernstein´s self-protecting spakes on and off television. In “Quasi Un Canto” a prelude ( it doubles at the end as a postlude also ) frames the orchestral song as it unfolds its 5 tones, A,B,C sharp, C,D and E flat in instrumental groups of three ( three trumpets, three flutes, etc. ) and later in groups of four ( celli divisi, etc. )
Hear my song, sardonic, splintered, quasi unisono then. This branches outlegato or blocked or bursting its way through musical space. Harp, piano and a panoply of percussion ( including bodhrá¡n and clashed cymbals to be lowered in a bath-tub of water ) mediate between the ideas which are really one idea. Vertical is horizontal is oblique. This is song, the full throat.
THREE SYMPHONIC PICTURES Frank Corcoran
I. AS I LAY DYING
I had been practising that for in or out ( – which ? ) of sixty odd years now. So I studied my profile, seeking to weed out even one weaky candidate in the list of morituri which my face was showing for all of those said and done and well-sung years. I hummed, then I hawed my Urmotiv, that 3-tone cell from which all of lifeÂ´s lovely algorhythms trip so lightly : Doh, Re, Mi, from
the “Kyrie” of the Mass for the Dead. As I lay so blythely , controlling my breathing, but not yet my last, a pattern seemed to be emerging: shriving memory recalled flawed projects with me, a child in the forties. The anal stage, definitely my force to move the stars. Wiggle the left big toe; I´m still alive.Thanks, doctor, it can´t be too long now. And
you did promise you will say to dying me: ” Bye-bye now!” – Doc. ? You will ? ( And why does it matter so to us, doc., to us the dear departing, I wonder ? But it does…. )
Then I let my old thoughts loose to roam freely around the next storey of the memory-palace which, it seemed was now finishing with the life which I was terminally
considering…. e.g. my plans in them seventies, just before the diving-rudder was jammed forward into a ” down” angle and the AtlanticÂ´s ocean-floor rose hard to greet us both. I dived. Now old wounds can tear the heart no more, apparently, in a cardiology that´s ” uneasy till it rest in Thee.”
( She peeked around the plastic curtain. ” Is your chamber-pot full yet …. ? ” )
Only rhythm remains in the end,the still firing neurons like to report.Take this left big toe, for example, and its world-formula: Let A be any one of your plans.Then let B minus A be the place you finish up in, eg. second place in the under fourteensÂ´ 4-hand reel. That means C is your unknown quantity and it´s equal to B squared x A squared x O which is nought.
Quod erat moriendum. So which of my dying ” I” s was I currently fooling, eh ?
Begob, now just let the big toe dream its non-existent future after its imminent demise, a future world of toelessness, no less, but no longer my future world as seen from the couch I was sprawled on for the very last time. ( I really was, accept it on faith, really dying to die, but, I suppose, I just couldn´t. It does happen…. ) Suffer , ye multiple selves, all my past tenses. Blow, nurseÂ´s bugle! Don´t forget to hoist this hero´s freshly-dead corpse up on its ( I had not prepaid; I forgot; it, too, can happen ! ) ) pyre. Mother had, father went. Meanwhile my toe was registering a great cold. Suppose mother had wanted me to be a Swiss Guard at the Vatican ? The toe, total cold now, had dozed off.
( So this´d be a further deformation of my phylogenetic derailment somewhere back along the furry-hairy parents´ line, is that it, toe ? )
Do it, dier! Like a wind-hoving skier. Now! So I smacked my hand-held piece of druidsÂ´holly that the Hospice For The Dying lady recommended for such vespers. Tap on the middle of the branch twice. Then knock once at the left side, druids ? But which banal deity might sidle in ? I did want to hear his god´s approach, her ghostly patter at my crackling fire. Into the intensive care ward padded, it burst Banagher, The Old Piper of Drooling Pentatonic, knobbly knees all blue under his lent kilt. He blew! ” Stop! Dying, I mean! Stop, this instant! Halt your processes! ” My staged thanatology was halted in its tracks; cold the toe, I saw that the fire barely flickered; my white hair stood on end . The hero´s pyre was consuming those ghostly faggots Mr. Yeats had wisely foresung. – Heavens ! Enough is enough! So it was then. So I snorted: ” Enough is enough! I hereby now appoint ME as Myne Lord Self, I designate myself Lord Smart! I am ,
therefore I am ! I will to will ! Remember her birthing , mother, pious he ! Herald, herald this thus! I am who am reclining here and I am about to reclaim my near-gangrenous toe !” In they trotted, mother´s small trooping gods and, of course, his goddesses. Goodly loud brayed the trumpeter, bold as brass , a Swiss Guard, as it happened. Then it happened. A gigantic weakness made my newly deified bladder burst. It put the pyre out.