Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

 

 

Fisches Nachtgesang - (2008)    

Christian Morgenstern

for medium voice and piano


Emily Ezust gewidmet

       -
    U U
    - - -
U U U U
    - - -
U U U U
    - - -
U U U U
    - - -
U U U U
    - - -
    U U
       -

 

[ 2 pages, circa 1' 45" ]


Christian Morgenstern

 

Emily Ezust wrote me a message, inquiring whether I had ever set this poem of Morgenstern. In answer, I composed and sent this setting to her for fun. She offers her own English translation of it at her site, The Lied and Art Song Texts Page, for all who might be somewhat confused about the text in German. That "translation" is found here .

 

 

Composed for medium voice, the alternation of "-" and "U" is done by assigning the oft-used hum, or bocca chiusa and the neutral vowel, "uh," to the signs in his text. The clustered chord form spread from one note to two to three and then four embodies musically Morgenstern's line lengths, and the resulting turning of the text into music "on its side" still has the shape come out of a fish, as seen in the gestures at measures 4-6. The vocal line also does a single-voiced interpretation of the text's two written symbols.

 

 

As wonderfully silly as is this text, the second instance of the vocal line leads us to a second tonal region, out of the "C" and into "E" before being thrown back into the "C." Perhaps the fish was too small and under the fishing marshal's limits? I was thinking of scales, but that might have been to obvious, and fins are difficult to do in music. Besides alas, Morgenstern's little fish has none. How does it get around with a bit of laughter?

 

 

Because Morgenstern titles the poem a "Fish's Night Song," perhaps we might imagine a lullaby to put the fish and song to bed, with a little quote, "gute Nacht."

 

 

 

 

The score for Fisches Nachtgesang is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

Fisches Nachtgesang