Indifference - (2010)
for medium or low voice and piano
In loopsy links the canker crawls,
Tads twiddle in their 'polian gleee,
Yet sinks my heart as water falls,
The loon that laughs, the babe that bawls,
The wedding wear, the funeral palls,
Are neither here nor there to me.
Of life the mingled wine and brine
I sit and sip pipslipsily.
[ 2 pages, circa 1' 35" ]
Whirly Art by Douglas Hofstadter
This anonymous text is cited in Metamathematical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, Douglas R. Hofstadter (Basic Books, New York, 1985), in a chapter titled "Stuff and Nonsense," p. 214. I had picked up the book again for fun while during this summer vacation. Rereading it after so many years, Hofstadter's survey of so many themes still delights me. My interest in so-called nonsense verse in particular includes many texts in both English and German which I have chosen to set to music, for nonsense is such a part of us and our human culture.
The indifference of the musical setting is its very tonal C major vocal line, under which a set of chords move in relations of fifths as if following backwards that so-called "circle" while underneath a simple and absolutely chromatic bass line rises and later falls without great regard to the vocal line's tonality -- except that it all works out as a puzzle might.
The many "cankers" of life having been surveyed by the text, the combination of "wine and brine" is characterized by the flowing of sextuplets, wholly in the diatonic major in contradistinction to the great chromaticism of the first section. A short recap of the chromaticism and simple cadence ends this short setting, tongue firmly in one's cheek.
The score for Indifference 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.