Songs for Departing - FEEDBACK REQUESTED

UPDATE (2/2024)

Took down the recording, but will repost when I finish the new mix!


Hi All,

I am asking once again for feedback on a recent composition for any of you so inclined to take a listen... 

"Songs for Departure" is a 12-13 minute set of three songs based on a tripartite poem by Louise Bogan, scored for mezzo-soprano and two bass clarinets.

Text, score and link to the mockup below.

Caveat: while I am planning to send this to a singer to record in the next week or two, at the moment the singer is unfortunately just MIDI.



p.s. I know I've been derelict in commenting on other's music on this forum and hope to improve that in the future!!

Words for Departure

by Louise Bogan

Nothing was remembered, nothing forgotten.
When we awoke, wagons were passing on the warm summer pavements,
The window-sills were wet from rain in the night,
Birds scattered and settled over chimneypots
As among grotesque trees.

Nothing was accepted, nothing looked beyond.
Slight-voiced bells separated hour from hour,
The afternoon sifted coolness
And people drew together in streets becoming deserted.
There was a moon, and light in a shop-front,
And dusk falling like precipitous water.

Hand clasped hand
Forehead still bowed to forehead—
Nothing was lost, nothing possessed
There was no gift nor denial.

I have remembered you.
You were not the town visited once,
Nor the road falling behind running feet.

You were as awkward as flesh
And lighter than frost or ashes.

You were the rind,
And the white-juiced apple,
The song, and the words waiting for music.

You have learned the beginning;
Go from mine to the other.

Be together; eat, dance, despair,
Sleep, be threatened, endure.
You will know the way of that.

But at the end, be insolent;
Be absurd—strike the thing short off;
Be mad—only do not let talk
Wear the bloom from silence.

And go away without fire or lantern
Let there be some uncertainty about your departure.


Songs for Departure.pdf

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    • yet another spammer. I suppose you get paid by Spotify (or your bot does)?


    • Thanks David. It's been addressed. Again, please feel free to message me with abusive behavior on our site. It will be addresssed as soon as I become aware of it. I appreciate your feedback, as usual.

    • OK -- Kris, I'll try to message you directly if I spot anything suspect in future so you can decide what to do.


  • I never would, nor could for that matter, write this. However, I did listen intently., so you've met the  minimal threshold of all composers - capturing the attention of seasoned ears. Although directly comparable to neither, Tuba Miriam and Nixon in China were constantly evoked. There are immense disparities in the comparison, of course, but the three examples cited are unified in an overall gestalt - the stark accompaniment of a single, melodic voice driving and focusing the attention on a musical notion.

    It truly makes me wonder if you could have been influenced the precocious keyboard works of Frescobaldi. Although his work might seem turgid at first listening, one has to recognize (and even admire) his profound ability to drive a simple melodic  motivic force forward, whilst enslaving the accompanying counterpoint to his fundamental message.  It's truly austere, stripped-down work, albeit cleverly disguised by florid embellishment and enharmonic trickery.  I will state unabashedly that I believe Frescobali to be the single most underrated keyboard composer in the entire Western tradition. His works are brilliant indeed, but more written for the appreciation of fellow composers who can follow them, than for the general public. If you haven't been influenced heretofore, I'd politely urge you to study his work diligently.

    Just a few initiall,  overarching thoughts to offer on first listening.  


    PS- Also, I've handled the spammer that polluted your thread. Thanks for your engagement and calling my attention to the matter. I'm very busy these days, so members' help such as yours is eagerly welcomed and probably invaluable for me to keep up with the task. I do appreciate the feedback, and only want to provide an open forum for composers to engage with each other and share productive, honest feedback, and advice. I don't enjoy censoring or banning accounts - in fact., it rubs me the wrong way, being a staunch "freedom of speech"-etc advocate.

    However, we have to maintain a functional and productive environment for earnest participants, so I encourage members to reach out, as you have, in order to notify me of abusive abuse or misuse of our community site. In short, I'm relying on you guys, our staunch membership, to report blatant abuse (not simple disagreement of opinion, or personal vendetta) of our platform.  

    Anyway John, I appreciate your help with moderation, as well as your offering here, and am looking forward to your future contributions.

    • Thank you, Kristofer. I'm not familiar with Frescobaldi but will check him out. I am an unabashed melodist and likely to remain so. :D

  • The live recording is no longer available through the link. Calamity! I have been tantalised and now blueballed. Partially through the effusive response by everyone here, and partially because the instrumentation fascinates me.

    • Sorry, Dave. I hate to leave people high and dry (or blue) but I decided to rework the mix based on Mike's comments (and some other workflow improvements I've been tackling) but I got sidetracked with other stuff before I could complete that. I'll repost soon!

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