VÄRLDSKLOCKAN / THE WORLD CLOCK

Composing for voices and instruments interests me very much. How can you make them melt together? How do voices and instruments colour each other’s sound?

 

The register of the cello is roughly the span of the mixed choir: from the second basses’ low C up to the sopranos’ highest notes – and even higher. In spite of the fact that it is a low instrument in the string family, the cello sounds strong and expressive in high register. Maybe it is not so hard to imagine the sound of cello with basses and tenors; they “sing” occasionally together. But how does the cello sound in unison with the sopranos on a second-octave A?’

 

Harry Martinson’s poem Världsklockan/The World Clock is well suited for being set to music for cello and choir. It speaks of depths and heights. And the world clock allows for large swings of its great pendulum, and for drama.

 

Finally, after the drama, there is a coda in the piece. It should be performed very gently, with indistinct vowel sounds in the choir. “Fragile, as if after the catastrophe” according to the score.

Världsklockan

Tungt haven äter på tidens berg

Och bergen samlas i tidens hav.

Där skogen fanns djupnar fiskens dalar.

Där haven låg susar skogen sval.

Världsklockor tickar och rymden glimmar.

Allt växlar läge och ordningstal.

Dock är de räknade, världens timmar

På Gaurisankar, i havets dal.

*

Någon sade: tiden ropar på dig.

Du svarade då: jag känner den och känner den ej.

Tiden är ett odjur med tusen huvuden.

Vilket av huvudena ropar på mig.

Så många vägar att gå

men alla slutar i en större:

den som med kraften att dra till sig de vilsna

på en och samma väg vilseför dem alla

—-

Harry Martinson

The World Clock

Seas weighted eat upon hills of time;

The hills have gathered in time’s sea.

Where forests were, fishes’ valleys deepen.

Where seas once lay, forests whisper cool.

World clocks are ticking and space is a’shimmer.

All changes place and number order.

Yet they’re counted, the world’s hours

On Gauri Shankar, in the sea’s valley.

 

*

Someone said: Time is calling to you.

Your answer was then: I know time yet I know it not.

Time is a monster with heads a thousand.

Which one of the heads is calling to me.

So many paths to choose

yet all end up in one that’s larger:

the one with the power to lure those that are lost

on that very path leads them all astray