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four songs for tEnor voicE (and strings

four songs for tEnor voicE (and strings

i. i go to this window

ii. i shall imagine life

iii. because i love you) last night

iv. since feeling is first

E.E. Cummings is acknowledged as the pre-eminent voice of 20th century writers, known for his sometimes avant-garde style and poems of love and nature. I had been looking to write a song set for some time, and chose Cummings poems for their contemporary sound that matched my harmonic approach. I found a unifying component between each of the texts: perspective. Each of the texts reflects different viewpoints of love, including wanting to be loved or being in love, and I hoped to convey some of these ideas throughout the piece.      

The movements “i go to this window” and “because i love you) last night” make extensive use if the all-interval tetrachords. I consciously used them in my vocal line, as well for a harmonic sonority. Even more possibilities arose when I was encouraged to investigate their “all-intervalness.” The text of “i shall imagine life” questions our perceptions of beauty. Contrast within and between its three sections helps to re-enforce the over-arching idea of perspective. The text of “since feeling is first” exemplifies one of Cummings main tenets; emotions and feelings should dominate over logic and reason. For this movement, I used several spatial sets to map out the string accompaniment, while keeping a fluid vocal line. The firm framework of the strings produces voicings for these sonorities, which are mostly quartal, that I may not have considered otherwise.


-Brian Spicklemire


This piece was premiered on April 15th  2010 for Peoria Lunaire, Bradley University’s new music ensemble, by Tommy Carreras (Tenor voice), Jenna Ferdon, Brianna Smith, Kate Lesniak, Jennifer Primm (violins), Erin Price, Hannah Salazar (violas), Britney Whiting (cello), and Ian Brown! (doublebass), with Brian Spicklemire conducting


"i go to this window", "i shall imagine life", "because i love you) last night", "since feeling is first" from COMPLETE POEMS: 1904-1962, by E.E. Cummings, Edited by George J. Firmage, is used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1926, 1931, 1954, 1958, 1959, 1979, 1986, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright (c) 1979, 1985 by George James Firmage

Brian Spicklemire,
Apr 29, 2011, 7:22 PM
Brian Spicklemire,
Apr 28, 2011, 6:29 PM