Six Songs of E.E. Cummings
Six Songs of E.E. Cummings were written for my goddaughter Rebecca Duren, soprano. The original version (2008) was for soprano and marimba. A version for soprano and piano followed in 2010. All six poems deal with the subject of love. The first three songs keep the voice and piano always in cross rhythms. In “there are so many tictoc clocks everywhere” (I), the soprano sings slow, disjunct triplets against a faster-moving piano line in 4/4 (a quotation of Bach’s Prelude from his Cello Suite in G-Major, BWV 1007). In “who knows if the moon’s a balloon” (II), in keeping with the text, about floating away from the Earth, the soprano line rises farther and farther away from the lower-register duplets of the piano. In “love is more thicker than forget” (III), the rhythms switch, as the soprano moves to serene duplets over the piano’s undulating triplets. “i carry your heart with me” (IV) is the most substantial movement. Here, the voice and piano share the melodic material, both duplets and triplets, as the piano echoes the soprano line in rapturous, lyrical phrases. The last two songs are comic. “mister youse needn’t be so spry” (V) returns to cross rhythms, with the soprano singing in duplets in a sassy “Miss Adelaide” Brooklyn accent, while the piano, in triplets, plays a bouncy, twelve-tone theme from my 1986 opera The Ransom of Red Chief, harmonized incongruously in C-Major. The theatrical final song, “may i feel said he” (VI), brings the voice and piano again into the same (duplet) rhythmic feel. The soprano alternates between “he” and “she” character voices in a torrid seduction scene, as the piano executes a moto perpetuo toccata.
The six poems are used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation, trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust.
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Works for Percussion by this Composer
Chronies - Multiple Percussion, Bass Clarinet
El día de los muertos - Percussion Octet
Six Songs of E.E. Cummings - Marimba, Soprano Voice
Toccata (Rodriguez) - Percussion Quintet
Xochiquetzal - Percussion Sextet, Violin