An altered look about the hills —
A Tyrian light the village fills —
A wider sunrise in the morn —
A deeper twilight on the lawn —
A print of a vermillion foot —
A purple finger on the slope —
A flippant fly upon the pane —
A spider at his trade again —
An added strut in Chanticleer —
A flower expected everywhere —
An axe shrill singing in the woods —
Fern odors on untravelled roads —
All this and more I cannot tell —
A furtive look you know as well —
And Nicodemus’ Mystery
Receives its annual reply!
—Emily Dickinson, #90, Franklin’s Reading Edition
Dickinson did not use titles, and when we see that her first editors headed this poem “April,” we can wince at the degree of foreclosure a title brings. The aesthetic point of this list-poem is to keep the reader guessing as a blank canvas is filled in, piece by piece. [Dickinson, by Helen Vender, p. 32]
As if it weren’t enough that early editors changed all Dickinson’s dashes to semi-colons —
Lou Harrison, Suite For Violin And American Gamelan, First Movement
The remaining movements may be heard at the links below:
The entire work may be heard on Spotify here.
The Suite opens with a Threnody in which the violin spins out a long, sinuous line spiced by double stops and mild dissonance. The gamelan accompaniment is very spare here, for the most part just a few strokes to mark off the violin’s long phrases. The second movement is an Estampie, a dance from Medieval Europe and one of Harrison’s favorite musical forms (he has used it in over a dozen compositions). It features an ornate melodic line over a lively, irregular rhythm. In the third movement, Air, the violin plays slowly and melodically over a repetitive and hypnotic pattern in the gamelan. Then comes a trio of Jhala movements, the first two fast in tempo, the third slow. The Jhala comes from north India; its main feature is the frequent repetition of a single note between the notes of the melody, or what Harrison has called an “interrupted drone.” The Suite ends with the initial Chaconne that Harrison and Dee wrote. Typically, the Chaconne features melodic variations over a repeating bass line, here sounding sonorously in the lower-pitched gamelan instruments. The violin joins in, as do other instruments in the gamelan. The texture gets gradually richer, bringing the work to a grand and solemn conclusion. [citation]
Credits: The sources for quotations may be found at the links in the text. As always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, the photographs (in this case, of Innisfree taken on April 30) are mine.