Haiku setting (1'15")

Written for a chamber orchestra, the voice is represented by an alto flute at this stage. If it seems ok, I'll persuade a contralto to sing the voice part. A bit whimsical - I don't often write music like this!

The words by Matsuo Bashou translate roughly to:

I wish I were

As close to you

As the wet shirt

Of a swimmer to her body.

I think of you


(there's a small instrumental interlude before "I think of you.")


It ends abruptly so I tacked on the first couple of bars of what happens next. 

Thank you for any comment, good or bad. 


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  • Hi Dane,

    I note a departure from the traditional 5-7-5 syllable haiku norm, which I cannot know if it is a result of the translation(? ) Was it with a different number of syllables in the original text? If yes, here we can have an example of how translations and music forms can interact with and change poetic forms.

    I like the meaning of the text as it is translated very much.

    Musically it gave me a kind of monothematic development impression, which I found quite appropriate for the chosen poetry and also its overall short length seems well balanced and correct. It says what it says with coherence, confidence and stylistic unity.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Hello there,

    Thank you for your comment. Much appreciated. I hoped to get away with the monotonous accompaniment because it is so short - just on the 1 minute. Its character is different from others I've set - so if I compiled a set, I'd have a problem with unity! 

    You're right, the English translation doesn't follow the syllabic pattern of Haiku. Matsuo Bashou was one of the famous poets (1644-1694). I've (hopefully not disrespectfully) turned to translation as setting them would be difficult without - they're by nature very short and were never meant to be set to music - therein lay the challenge. It all started because I found an old Pirelli calendar from 1968 in a storeroom. This particular one was about "love poems" and came with four Haiku among other poems. It inspired me to look into this Japanese poetic form.  

    Again, thanks!

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