This is a daft Christmas poem of mine from a half-asleep/half-awake stage. I had plans to develop it into a full blown political polemic (I don’t know if I'll find the time), but before I carry on with the rest of it, I would like to have some comments/opinions on the setting of the first stanza. My intention was to leave this stanza as it was for 4 solo tenors and start setting for full choir for the rest of the poem, but I think it sounds better if I start with all four voices.
Any suggestions for this stanza or for any other welcome.
Thanks for listening.
THREE HUNDRED MASTER BOWMEN
Three hundred master bowmen
appeared on Christmas Day,
to shoot three thousand snowmen
and teach them some fair play.
They were all dressed in Lincoln green,
head to foot, hose and tunic,
they spied on people on a screen,
their aims were quite satanic.
Each one carried ten arrows
and no one missed a shot,
the snowmen just like sparrows,
went down on the spot.
Three thousand corpses lie still,
proving this perfect craft,
so my blood thirsty poetry
continues bright and daft.
"Why did you shot these snowmen?"
I asked with some surprise,
but silent were the bowmen,
and vacant were their eyes.
I came closer for a look,
but I felt very cold,
I had a weird kind of spook,
this tale must be re-told:
Fun stuff. If it were mine, I would put a crotchet rest on the first beat of bars 4, 7, and 10, turning the minims into crotchets on the second beats. It sings a little better like this (for me of course), gives them a breathing space and assuming the boxed numbers are the canonic entries, will help draw attention to them. (although I didn't work it out!).
Good stuff. I agree with Mike about giving some breathing spaces along the lines he suggests.
What in heaven's name is meant by LEMONIA PERFORCE => OLD FOLKS AT HOME?
Were you cold because of the proliferation of dead snowmen or because you were spooked (or both maybe)?
How brave to write a round! I've always wanted to, but found it rather intimidating. You're doubly brave to use differing time signatures! I wouldn't want to be a snowman in your world, though ....
Item 1 of 300 Mster Bowmen done.
Thank you all very much for your feedback. Much appreciated.
MM, you were on the spot about the choir. It did not work for me for 4 tenors finally because the chords don’t get as I want them. I'll keep a version in 4 parts for the same type of voice, but just for fun. I finished now the composition for full choir.
Mike, thanks for the tip! I did as you said and the entries all became clear and definite. That helped me to carry on with the rest of the stanzas, cause in the beginning I did not know what to do with them. I ended up with a A-B-A-C-A thingy (it does remind me of Baroque rondo form), but I did not have the mental stamina to carry on with a fugue as I had planned, so I took the easy way out with a fughetta and madrigale type of writing for the rest of the stanzas, in a continues movement.
Stephen, thanks for commenting. The question you asked on my tags it's very complicated. Those titles are denoting mainly super-structures of my poems which help me keep track of them (and hopefully help the reader to follow unifying big themes in them). So, "LEMONIA PERFORCE" is my latest super-structure from 2016 onwards and "OLD FOLKS AT HOME" a smaller unit within LEMONIA.
"Lemonia" of course is in Greek a traditional but rather rare female name giving the fragrance and freshness of the lemon tree to the person who bares it.
These poetic structures affect very much in my mind the musical ones and that is why they appear in nearly all my scores.
I doctored a few notes here and there in the canon in order to avoid some parallels which they were resulting and bothering me a bit, but I hope it is still recognizable as a round in both major and minor modes.
Don’t worry about the snowmen, as my tale progresses they turn out to be the bad guys. In fact this tale is half dream, half wistful thinking, but the beginning is very confusing as it owe to be in my thinking. I put further down the 2nd item of the tale, which at least establishes the time and the place:
Christmas 1346, four months exactly after the battle of Crecy in Northern France, where the English long bow destroyed the French cavalry and got established as the most lethal weapon in the battlefields of the whole Europe.
If you read the poem, what do you think about the ending? Is it wrong or still more daft to pass from English to French and back? (Sometimes, I even use 3 or 4 languages if I can exploit some rhymes that don't exist in the other languages that I'm using). :-) )
OLD FOLKS AT HOME
THREE HUNDRED MASTER BOWMEN 2
I took a look around the green
and turned my head again,
the bowmen nowhere to be seen,
vanished from the terrain.
Only a snowman lying flat,
an arrow through his head,
I could not see further than that,
a snowman lying dead!
There were three hundred bowmen,
but now there is none,
there were three thousand snowmen,
but now this alone.
I felt confused as to the year,
the place, and the event,
a foggy day, with nothing clear,
a flash that came and went.
Yet here I am, in village green,
standing beside the church,
on its north transept as I lean,
beginning my research.
Who were those freaks and who am I,
and where the hell is this?
The year I'm reading in the sky,
mille, trois cent, quarante, six.
Après la bataille de Crécy,
England is it or France?
C'est bien mais suis-je ici,
and what should be my stance?
I'm hearing Renaissance festival. You could accompany on lute, or orchestrate on period instruments. There are groups who would play this. Write an intro and some interludes between verses and a finale This is good stuff.
Thanks for your appreciation Lawrence.
I think what you advise is a very good idea and I'll probably do it. I see the present G tonality as befitting very much the Renaissance lute (G tonality on it is what an E tonality is for the guitar, just perfect). I am quite familiar with the 16-17th century English & French repertoire for lute, recorders and viols and I'll just take my material and fit it to the playing style. My only worry would be to find good viol samples. Note Performer in Sibelius assigns automatically a violin soloist sample to all viols (which is quite inappropriate for tenor and bass), but I'll see what can be done.