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The City and the Sea

The City and the Sea is a set of five settings on poems by E.E. Cummings. I’m writing two versions: one for SATB chorus and piano; and one for solo baritone and piano. The baritone solo version will be available in early 2015. The entire set is based on white key clusters in the piano. I’ve started calling this the ‘oven-mitt’ technique, because the chords are played as if you are wearing mitts on your hands – the four fingers all bunched together and the thumb on its own. Here is an example from i walked the boulevard, the first piece in the set:
i walked the boulevard
Occasionally I break up the clusters and write the chords as arpeggios, as in this example from maggie and milly and molly and may:
maggie and milly and molly and may
I’ve sort of fallen in love with the style and sound of these pieces, and I might end up writing a couple more to fill out the set even further. In the meantime, here are the five movements that now comprise The City and the Sea:

i walked the boulevard

i walked the boulevard i saw a dirty child skating on noisy wheels of joy pathetic dress fluttering behind her a mothermonster with red grumbling face cluttered in pursuit pleasantly elephantine while nearby the father a thick cheerful man with majestic bulbous lips and forlorn piggish hands joked to a girlish whore with busy rhythmic mouth and silly purple eyelids of how she was with child E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

the moon is hiding in her hair

the moon is hiding in her hair. The lily of heaven full of all dreams, draws down. cover her briefness in singing close her with intricate faint birds by daisies and twilights Deepen her, Recite upon her flesh the rain’s pearls singly-whispering. E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

maggie and milly and molly and may

maggie and milly and molly and may went down to the beach (to play one day) and maggie discovered a shell that sang so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles, and milly befriended a stranded star whose rays five languid fingers were; and molly was chased by a horrible thing which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and may came home with a smooth round stone as small as a world and as large as alone. for whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

as is the sea marvelous

as is the sea marvelous from god’s hands which sent her forth to sleep upon the world and the earth withers the moon crumbles one by one stars flutter into dust but the sea does not change and she goes forth out of hands and she returns into hands and is with sleep… love, the breaking of your soul upon my lips E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

little man in a hurry

little man (in a hurry full of an important worry) halt stop forget relax wait (little child who have tried who have failed who have cried) lie bravely down sleep big rain big snow big sun bug moon (enter us) E.E.Cummings, 1894-1962

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