Friday, July 17, 2009

"Sad music" (instrumental)

So I baited myself to keep reading through James Joyce's Ulysses by flagging passages that I thought would be fun to score and sing.

Mostly, I was looking for rock song lyrics, parts of the novel to break up and treat as lyric sheets, but I also noted a couple of options for experimental spoken word numbers and instrumentals.

In essence, I was reproducing the array of techniques we use in Poetry Scores when setting a long poem to music. The parts that look fun to sing, we make into songs and sing. That always leaves behind parts of the poem that would be more fun to say, as well as haunting little fragments that want nothing more than to lend themselves as titles to instrumentals.

This passage of the Nighttown episode of the novel has a simple phrase I have set aside to title an instrumental.

(They rustle, flutter upon his garments, alight, bright giddy flecks, silvery sequins.)

BLOOM: A man's touch. Sad music. Church music. Perhaps here.

(Zoe Higgins, a young whore in a sapphire slip, closed with three bronze buckles, a slim black velvet fillet round her throat, nods, trips down the steps and accosts him.)
I wanted to record a flavor of the passage, but the title of the Three Fried Men instrumental I'll write with Lij or Matt Fuller is really very brief and simple: "Sad Music".

Given the context - "Sad music. Church music." - it should be a little churchy. It should be a church music for the prayers of a young whore in a sapphire slip.

As an example of this technique, here is "The muddy music of the ink squid" from the poetry score to Blind Cat Black. The poem, and therefore the title of the song, is by Ece Ayhan, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat, and the composition and performance are by Matt Fuller, though we used the band name Three Fried Men for the performance credit.


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