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No one could be sure


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I decided to write for trio plus voice using a poem by Sarah Mangold. The poem at first seems quite bizarre. The list of observations ("celestial winds", "rainbows", "kidneys", "gesture of remembrance") highlights the randomness and diversity of things we might notice in life. Each has its own significance but it's unclear which will ultimately matter. So as a result the poem makes little sense, until some thought is put into it. "Perishing the keeper" might refer to the inevitability of death and the loss of those who hold or keep memories, knowledge, or roles. "Footless birds of paradise" combines a paradoxical image with a symbol of exotic beauty. Birds of paradise are known for their stunning appearance and unique behaviors. The term "footless" might suggest something unattainable or ethereal, enhancing the sense of mystery and beauty.

 

I decided to put this poem to music by having a feeling of indeterminacy. There's a home, it's all tonal, by it is all unstable. You'll notice a lack of slurs and articulation, instead just the word "dry"; there is in general supposed to be lack of 'emotion', in a unuseful placidity. Let me know if this is effective or what I could do better.

SARAH MANGOLD Poet & NEA Fellow

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Hello there!

This piece really stopped me in my tracks, my goodness. Your style feels very unique and personal. I thought the metric changes did well to bookend the first and last lines of the poem. Even though it captures indeterminacy I hear a mastery of form. My favorite section in the piece is your repetition of "paradise"; the chord changes really embody that word for me while being inescapably melancholy, maybe because you never overindulge in emotion.

I wonder, what were your thoughts behind having dotted eighth notes and sixteenth rests in bar 51? As a cellist I am used to seeing "detaché" written out or a tenuto mark over a staccato mark, which each give slightly different feelings, but I am curious what the psychology was behind your choice. 🙂 What instruments do you play?

One other thing I thought I would mention is that there is clipping at bars 46 and 47. Do you know how to address this with a DAW? I thought you would appreciate knowing especially since that moment is so climactic. 🙂

Thank you for sharing this truly beautiful and poignant piece, and also for introducing me to a poet I didn't know. 

~ Gwen

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hi @Gwendolyn Przyjazna thank you for listening!

I really appreciate what you've said about this piece, I'm very glad it had the intended effect. 

As for bar 51, it mostly came down to getting musescore to make the sound I wanted. Most other options simply were too short, I want space between note, but I don't want the onset to be sudden. I want a relaxed onset, and then a soft cutoff to make space before the next note. detache would probably be fine but I'm a singer and am not aware the intrinsic meaning of that marking. 

As for the clipping, sadly there's not much I can do ;-;. Thank you for commenting, I appreciate you feedback. 

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