If freckles were lovely - (2007)
E. E. Cummings
for medium voice and piano
(text from 1910)
If freckles were lovely, and day was night,
And measles were nice and a
lie warn't a lie,
Life would be delight,--
But things couldn't go right
For in such a sad plight
I wouldn't be I.
was heaven and now was hence,
And past was present, and false was true,
There might be some sense
But I'd be in suspense
For on such a pretense
You wouldn't be you.
was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were
Things would seem fair,--
Yet they'd all despair,
For if here was there
We wouldn't be we.
[ 3 pages, circa 1' 40" ]
Edward Estlin Cummings
With so many other settings of Cummings poems in my opera omnia, this
youthful and youth-filled enthusiasm-in-words stakes claim early on in
Cummings' life to both the charm of his word associations and his outlook on
life. One of the last settings that I shall compose to Cummings words for
simple artistic reasons -- see my
No Thanks -- this little statement speaks the question from its
original title, "If." If things were different as regards the Liveright
trustee relation to Cummings works, but this remains, as far as I am
concerned, an "if."
Composed for a medium vocal range, the theme of the work is the major seven
chord and its relatives within the diatonic scale. The vocal line's gesture
outlines the harmony while the piano accompaniment underpins this with its
tonic major seven chord in inversion, such that until the rupturing hemiola
of measure nine, the opening gambit is wholly the tonic major seven with the
mere passing fancy of the occasional raised fourth. The form is strophic to
match the stanzas of the poem itself, as Cummings' form lends its form to
the musical setting.
The score for If freckles were lovely 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.
If freckles were lovely