Forbidden Fruit -
medium voice and piano
Forbidden fruit a flavor has
That lawful orchards mocks;
How luscious lies the pea within
The pod that Duty locks!
pages, circa 2' 00" ]
text is noted as LXXXVII, in Part One: Life, from Dickinson's Complete
Poems, (1924). For more on Dickinson please see
Because I Could Not Stop For Death.
notion of forbidden fruit -- that which carries a tribal, religious or even
a modern societal taboo -- is well understood. Part of the human psyche
revolts at being told "no," from childhood and long into adulthood. When an
orthodoxy proposes and enforces taboos, then these forbidden objects,
beliefs and behaviors become all the more tantalizing to those who would
reject the taboo, the proscription, the regulation or even the sway of
modern political correctness. Dickinson reveals in four short lines that
duty and law -- law being a changing frame of reference over time -- are
often the actual definer of how "luscious" the hidden fruit might be. I
wager few are the individuals in life who have not heard the call of some
forbidden fruit in their own experience.
this notion of forbidden fruit, a succession of open fifths -- the fifth
being foundational in Western music and in its harmonic practices and
tunings -- are piled one on top of the next as in the open upward rush in
measure one. Seven chords based on fifths for their structure meander across
time, both diatonically and chromatically, changing the reference for the
vocal line which seeks to accommodate. The phrase, "forbidden fruit," is
repeated multiple times throughout the setting, at its opening as at its
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.