Song of One Lost in the Fog (2009)
(for alto flute/flute, clarinet in B flat, violin, viola, cello, and piano with koto)
I wrote SONG OF ONE LOST IN THE FOG out of an interest in the works of the American anthropologist/linguist/poet Jaime de Angulo (1887-1950), particularly his book "The Music of the Indians of Northern California", which includes his idiosyncratic graphic-notation versions of songs of the Pit River Indians as well as his own original melodies, and a collection of his poems, “Home Among the Swinging Stars”.
SONG OF ONE LOST IN THE FOG has five sections, each section related to material by de Angulo:
- the first section
de Angulo’s poem “Fog”
fog coming up in streams
from the sea
In the pasture the old black mare stands
with her head bent.
- the second section
de Angulo’s poem “Redwood in the Night”
Foggy rain, foggy rain, gentle rain,
dripping under the tall redwoods.
Shaggy horse with your tail to the storm,
aren’t you cold?
- the third section
de Angulo’s music in graphic notation “Song of Night Falling”
- the fourth section
de Angulo’s music in graphic notation “Song of One Lost in the Fog”
- the fifth section
de Angulo’s music in graphic notation “Song of the Horse”
An extended passage in the first section has a rhythmic pattern of 25 beats - divided into 6, 4, 5, 4, and 6 beats - in celebration of the 25th year of Earplay, during which this piece was written. As part of the koto solo (Song of the Horse), I included the Korean melody “Garden Balsam”, from a song which became very popular in the 1940s during the Japanese occupation of Korea (the song was written in 1920 by Nan-pa Hong).
Dear garden balsam by the fence,
How plaintive you now look…
During those long summer days,
Beautiful young ladies used to play under you
In full bloom…
SONG OF ONE LOST IN THE FOG was commissioned by Earplay and the San Francisco Foundation. It was funded in part by the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the LEF Foundation and generous donors.