Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) – George Crumb‏

by richibi




we say that birds sing, despite the
fact that it is their ordinary language,
whales, upon our hearing them, seem
also to be singing

when we sing we alter our voices to
fit pitches and volume and rhythms
intentionally, otherwise we’re talking

what, then, is music, is bird song
music, whale song, is Vox Balaenae“,
a composition by George Crumb, from

if so, what do we mean by music, which
used to be, a long time ago it appears
now, melodic, recurrent and rhythmic

in Vox Balaenae“, where is the music
we used to think of as music, though
harmonious it has the elements rather
of language, communication, instead
of the ordered outlay of composition

it is, however, indeed Classically laid,
with movements and everything, even
a set of variations, though interestingly
attended on either side, these, by, as it
were, book ends, a prologue and an
epilogue, literary terms, to reinforce
the idea of narration, there are three

Prologue: Vocalise (…for the beginning of time)

Variations on Sea-Time [Sea Theme]

Epilogue: Sea-Nocturne (…for the end of time)

a blue light in the performance suggests
a marine environment, masks dehumanize,
render everything “[a]rcheozoic”, extended
technique, unusual use of the instruments,
are instructions stated in the score

for a while I’ve been saying that prose is
just bad poetry, for a while I’ve been trying
to make poetry out of prose

how are we doing