Alice Songs

 

Music and Texts of  GARY BACHLUND

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"Alice" Songs - (1991)    

Lewis Carroll  

Nine songs for high or medium low voice and piano 


i. Childhood Dreams   [ circa 2' 00" ]

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.
Alice! A childish story take,
And, with a gentle hand,
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
In Memory's mystic band,
Like pilgrim's wither'd wreath of flowers
Pluck'd in a far-off land.
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

ii. The Little Crocodile   [ 1' 20" ]

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

iii.  Pig and Pepper   [ 50" ]

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.
Wow! Wow! Wow!

I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!
Wow! Wow! Wow!

iv. The Mock Turtle's Lament   [ 2' 00" ]

Beautiful soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Beeyou-tiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!
Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
pennyworth only of beautiful soup?
Beautiful soup! Beeyou-tiful soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!

v. Jabberwocky   [ 3' 25" ]

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The fruminous Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

vi. Tweedledum and Tweedledee    [ 1' 00" ]

Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow
As big as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.

vii. Humpty Dumpty   [ 30" ]

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty in his place again.

viii. The Lion and the Unicorn     [ 1' 05" ]

The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown:
The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town.
Some gave them white bread, some gave them brown:
Some gave them plum-cake and drummed them out of town.

 

ix. Queen Alice  (for Alice Coulombe)    [ 1' 30" ]

 

To the Looking-Glass creatures it was Alice that said,
"I've a scepter in my hand,
I've a crown on my head.
Let the Looking-Glass creatures, whatever they be,
Come and dine with the Red Queen, the White Queen and me! Me! Me!

Then fill up the glasses as quick as you can,
And sprinkle the table with buttons and bran;
Put cats in the coffee, and mice in the tea -
And welcome Queen Alice with thirty-times-three!

"O Looking-Glass creatures," quoth Alice, "draw near!
'Tis an honour to see me, a favour to hear,
'Tis a privilege high to have dinner and tea
Along with the Red Queen, the White Queen and me! Me! Me!

Then fill up the glasses with treacle and ink,
Or anything else that is pleasant to drink:
Mix sand with the cider, and wool with the wine -
And welcome Queen Alice with ninety-times-nine!
Thirty-times-three and ninety-times-nine!

Total [ 19 pages, 12' 20" ]


 

Lewis Carroll

 

These songs were written as studies towards setting Lewis Carroll's stories as an opera, to investigate the poetry first, and then take from the Ur-texts of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass as a basis for the libretto which followed these songs.

 

 

The world-renown nonsense, "Jabberwocky," is set with melodramatic elements recalling silent movie themes, and yet citing a snippet of opera by conjuring the "vorpal blade" with the short leitmotiv from Wagner's Ring.

 

The setting opens quietly, whimsically.

 

 

Musical gestures echoing silent movies accompaniment carry the fight scene, which Alice narrates by reading the poem from the book which she has found "through the looking-glass."

 

 

These song settings, and the entire opera which stems from these first studies for it, are meant for the performers' individual investment and interpretation. Seemingly simple, there are many subtle complexities which nest within the simple notations. As with the wonderful nonsense of Lewis Carroll, these songs are meant also as a bit of nonsense to be enjoyed.

 

Another of Carroll's texts is set as a solo song, The Mad Gardener's Song.

 

The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

"Alice" Songs

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"Alice" Songs

medium low key