I would not paint — a picture —

I was delighted to be asked to write a piece for the Chapel Choir of King’s College, Aberdeen, for them to sing on St Cecilia’s Day this year.

A cream and yellow drawing of a rose -- Study of a Rose LACMA M.73.136

I chose this text by Emily Dickinson at the suggestion of Catherine Fox:

I would not paint — a picture —
I’d rather be the One
It’s bright impossibility
To dwell — delicious — on —
And wonder how the fingers feel
Whose rare — celestial — stir —
Evokes so sweet a torment —
Such sumptuous — Despair —

I would not talk, like Cornets —
I’d rather be the One
Raised softly to the Ceilings —
And out, and easy on —
Through Villages of Ether —
Myself endued Balloon
By but a lip of Metal —
The pier to my Pontoon —

Nor would I be a Poet —
It’s finer — Own the Ear —
Enamored — impotent — content —
The License to revere,
A privilege so awful
What would the Dower be,
Had I the Art to stun myself
With Bolts — of Melody!

I tried to capture the start and stop — of all those dashes, and the Emphasis conveyed by some of the Words being capitalised. And underneath all that, I added 1 Corinthians 14:15: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. That comes as part of a long lecture about praying in tongues, but also about women being silent in church, which I am definitely not.

Here are some robotic clarionets playing it:

And here is a .pdf file if you want to follow along.

As usual it’s available on the Choral Public Domain Library, under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike licence: so you can copy it and sing it and so on, without having to ask me for specific permission. I’m also trying to get a print copy on Lulu, but I’m struggling somewhat with the interface, so we’ll see.

I’m able to put my music online for free like this because of my kind supporters at Patreon. If you’re able to, please join them in sponsoring me.