Saturday, August 15, 2009

Carl Pandolfi and pretty pretty petticoats

During a two week sojourn in Ghana, when I was unable to update this blog, a truly encouraging development bloomed at home: Carl Pandolfi began to score one of the lyrics I have carved out of James Joyce's Ulysses, "All future plunges to the past".

This is one where, in the blog post, I mused in some detail about an imagined song structure, so of course I will be keen to see if Carl hears the same structure as he begins to puzzle chords and melody out of Joyce's brilliant language.

Among many other things one could say about this talented character, Carl is one of the songwriters in The Lettuce Heads. Over the years, I have managed to enlist his collaboration on several Poetry Scores projects, most spectacularly the arrangement of and performance on "Little boys and fat men" from the poetry score to Go South for Animal Index.

The good news from Carl on the Joyce score project reminds me to go back to inputting my suggested lyrics from Ulysses; I have notes for a dozen more. Here is one.

"Pretty petticoats"

pretty pretty
pretty pretty pretty

This bit is said (in an hallucination) by Lipoti Virag, grandfather of Leopold Bloom, as he flaps noisily against a mauve shade in the Nighttown brothel section of the novel. A sexually motivated outburst by your grandfather, imagined as a moth in an hallucination at a whorehouse? - there seems to be scope for rock & roll in such a thing as that.

I am imagining a particular kind of song that relies upon tricky, numbers-based repetitions, over a really seductive riff and a beat that makes you want to march, or do a march-like dance. These riff parts, which carry the lyrics, would be offset by instrumental interludes with a very different character, to keep the composition interesting.

In a successful song of this sort - my friend Will Johnson of Centro-matic and South San Gabriel is good at writing them - when you look at the lyric sheet, you are amazed at how few words went into the song. It had seemed like so much more was going on!


Image from BuckarooBob's Flickr, from the streets of La Paz.


More in this series

"Music without Words, pray for us" (instrumental, or not)
"SIGNOR MAFFEI: (With a sinister smile)"
"Sad music" (instrumental)
"Monkey puzzle" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"What kind of a present to give"
"Fires in the houses of poor people" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Christfox in leather trews" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"All future plunges to the past" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"She was humming" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Silly billies:" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"Happy Happy" (Fuller, Joyce, King)
"A sugarsticky girl" (Joyce, King, A Better Guitar Player Than Me)
"Everybody eating everyone else" (Joyce, King, You)
"Blood not mine" (Joyce, King, Your Name Here)
"Sell your soul for that" (Joyce, King, Your Name Here)
"Over the motley slush" (Joyce, King, Whoever Helps Me)
"My childhood bends" (Joyce, King)"
"Don't you play the giddy ox with me!" (Joyce, King)

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