Frank Corcoran

irish composer


P.S. Our Irish art-music continues to be the most hopelessly unknown, unaccepted and unacceptable art in the Irish psyche, ar-canon and – pantheon. This used to depress the bejays outta me. Now it´s head down; continue the lonely slog to create, yes, compositional masterpieces, aere perennius…. I have no other solution. Have you, fly ?


It is certainly not easy. Take my murder this hot today. Thwacked down on the fresh composer´s ink of his dazzling bar twenty seven ( all strings metred, chordal; five wood-wind macrocontrapuntally ” non sincronizzati”, he grandly paints. ) . It wasn´t easy being a fly; it never i. I was born, I flew, I was splattered on this bright note-paper. Which Mind thwacked ? Whose that murderous blow?
So what, I had interrupted his composer´s blessed flow, that bassoon line as a bass, supporting those cavorting, non-synchronized
horn and clarinet and oboe and flute. I slowed that down, the trickle. I know, I had distracted his polyphonic think. I tickled ´im once too much; he slapped my fly-entrails all over that bar twenty seven where they all begin to unravel. I flew. I, a fly, fui.


Not being a Jainist, line up your shots. Which aerial aleatory guides the chances that these two ( swiftly copulating on a thin air ) black flies will now land on my freshly inked bar twenty three ? Who guides the tiller, what Mind the hot tail-spin? Fresh air painters had their share of French painterly tribulations, including a French fly or two to land on the fresh stroke of the fresh flesh brush. Same or similar here; they seem to like the dazzling white of my page. Two ciccadas orchestrate this bloody tale of flight as my freshly rolled newspaper fly-slapper crashes. We remain tolerant of the poor cuckoo´s call worn microtonally thin, a ruined third or a fourth or even a tritone since last May. There are worse things in store for the unsocked ankle this glorious July day; a composer´s blood, sweet to suck. Angle your nose along down the score-page´s verticle, no skidding as you draw a bar-line, align my summery simultaneities. Scribble slowly; ledger lines calls for time. Cleanly construct your chord, glissando going up or even down. For the paper the ink sighs. For the ink the flies fly. Out of doors music is different.


Whack ! Your flies are enemy number one for the composer writing outside the cool house. Wrap the “Rome” section of the Corriere, your only weapon of death; develop backhand, stealth, stalk. Write ( to be continued, of course ) : ” Who am I ? The time will be getting short. Would you mind shutting off that awful music ? ” Licence to begin at my beginning. I know now that I was not present at my beginning. As I was pro- and created. The eyes were shuttered, shutters pulled down, no Peeping Tom´s eyrie as they did. Must e-mail this unfortunate Author of all this “Who ? ” stuff in a flurry of key-work, key-words and key-notes. So who is uttering this self-directed imperative? I am my e-fingers? Oh for the digital author! Who always wanted to e-say the folling, never found the e-word: ” Well, y / I / ou a´(m)r´nt too bad . No!”
Don´t stop swatting while sweating. Swat fly; sweat tones. Which Me scrapes which barrel´s ( lovely ) bottom ?


The hot saw whines up on my accacia tree . If the two men slip now. A ton weight whorled roots of enormous dead ivy which nearly strangulated the tree. Now it´ll begin to respire in great July heat. Don´t fall, kill a child or the house or any of us. Last year I saw how the snake shimmied up the same tree on the egg-hunt. Where is it this morning? Dislikes whirring saws? Keeps away from the arboreal action, the crack and slap? The birds´ll get over it. We and the tree will live to breathe again; ” My young love, Buddha / Came to us softly sleeping / And his sap rising “…. Corcoran 2010 as the first of my choral ” EIGHT HAIKUS “. No bad year. Oops, down crashes another dead branch, rotten, huge. We´ll get finished before the high nineties soar, get indoors, batten the heat-hatches, take pleasure in accacia light.


MEDIEVAL IRISH EPIGRAMMES for Choir – Frank Corcoran

1972 I was just back in Ireland from composition studies with Boris Blacher in Berlin. It was bliss to be alive.
I was re-discovering my own country, its traditional music , its language, dances, archaeology , – the entire mythic map
lurking not far below that thin veneer of Englishing that had taken place since the Famine ( I am thinking especially of those woeful distortions of family- and place-names, the daily evaporation of Gaeilge, my own polysemic identity and the slow death of a Celtic FÍS we´d had for better or worse and in some shape or form for so many centuries before that for Irish Ireland killing nineteenth c. )
I wanted to test my composer´s mettle , my Irish mettle. Frank O´Connor´s translations ( ” Kings , Lords and Commons” ) of especially those Early Celtic lyrics provided a window into Iron Age Ireland .
The Nine Medieval ( – but, of course, they´re ages older than that ) Irish Epigrammes which I set for the RTE Singers under wonderful Hans W. Rosen have all the freshness of Basho´s Japanese Haikus. I composed an arch-form similar to , say, those bee-hive stone monastic huts of Sceilg Mór. The range of expression of these my nine lyric miniatures is enormous, including “The Blackbird Of Lough Neagh”,
the wholly erotic ” Aideen ” ” Fionn´s Generosity ” aiming forward to the final ( ” Poet´s Farewell ” ) our lyrical leave-taking from an aristocratic island-culture which had remained largely intact for so many centuries down to the arrival of the Vikings and the Normans .
My choral music “sets”, paints, comments, carries, chants or sings these little literary masterpieces of high concision and great formal perfection. ( – Years later, my coming across Seamus Heaney´s translation of “SUIBHNE GEALT ” unlocked similar archaic energy , leading to my ” MAD SWEENEY ” for Speaker and Chamber Orchestra of 1995. ) . Tones serve words ; sounds lick , lambaste, utter syllables . The RTE recording with the RTE SINGERS later went to the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. I remember also a very fine rendering by Eric Sweeny with them in, if I don´t disremember, 1978.


Mikrokosmos and micrologos are fancy names for a little world which an art-work creates. With aura, of course; we are here granting irreproduceability, our Hapax Legomenon ( or should we ? ), the epiphany , a fumble in time, the split in the grainy film. Time seems to stop with and for the masterpiece ( but, of course , it doesn´t ). What´s all this about Barnett Newman´s 1948 “THE SUBLIME IS NOW” ? What does his death – or that of CyTwombly – do with all this ? A huge picture, just standing there, trumpeting forth just what? It´s all very fine and sublime to maintain that here “Being” ( but beware all bull-shit metaphyics, singer ! ) is bursting out o´ its skin , leppin´onto the stage in order to confound and astonish and remind and confuse and heal and rattle and medicate me by shock.
P.S. I cracked The Ciccadas´Song: ” Don´t be going out in that thermonuclear sun shining and roaring but seek quietly the shade.”