Creative Works

Songs and Doubles

Five Movements for Soprano, B-flat Clarinet and Piano (1997), 16:20
Performers on the audio excerpts are: Julie Newell, soprano; Jay East, clarinet, and Donald Rebic, piano.

Songs and Doubles begins with a simple setting for soprano and piano of Joanne Schweik's short poem The Harvest. The rhythmic and intervallic ideas within this brief composition give rise to songs based on poetry by Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson.  The first two songs in the cycle are immediately followed by “Doubles”, an ornamented and developed form of variation based on similar practices in French music of the 17th and 18th centuries.  These instrumental variations are scored for clarinet and piano.  The final song contains instrumental interludes that function as internal “doubles” as well as a continuing clarinet obbligato decorating and commenting upon the vocal part.

While the recurrent poetic themes in the three poems result in music containing a continuously unfolding series of variants, there is an intended comprehensive causality that culminates in closure at the end of the third and final song. The second “double” anticipates the final song by quoting principal motto materials from the closing movement of the set of five pieces.  There is particular emphasis upon the Dickinson lines, "I sing to use the waiting", and "No more to do have I" which the composer understands as a reference to that last gadarene flight into eternal darkness.  The second “double” contains a programmatic musical reference to the line "his best step approaching" with a percussive recurring chordal motive in the piano part, intended to evoke the inexorable footsteps of approaching death.

While the music suggests the inevitability of life’s conclusion, it is infused with a lyricism and energy that implies both the joy and the peace of acceptance.  

The Harvest
Text by Joanne Schweik

I have labored long hours in the vineyard.
Not, however, for a denarius.
For nothing.  And this reward:
I am a connoisseur of bitter wine.

Fall, leaves, fall
Text by Emily Bronte

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreathes of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.


I sing to use the waiting

Text by Emily Dickinson

I sing to use the waiting,
My bonnet but to tie,
And shut the door unto my house;
No more to do have I;

Till, his best step approaching,
We journey to the day,
And tell each other how we sang
To keep the dark away.

Performers on the audio excerpts are: Julie Newell, soprano; Jay East, clarinet, and Donald Rebic, piano.

Copyright © 2008 Donald Bohlen.

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