Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund

 

 

Im heißen Bad - (2010)    

Joachim Ringelnatz

for medium voice and piano


 

Dort im heißen Bad ein Hummer
Brummt erzürnt: "Schockschwerenot!"
Diese Hitze färbt mein schönes
Grünes Kleid ganz purpurrot.

Ei, war das ein fröhlich Leben,
Als ich noch im tiefen Schlamm
Mit Frau Kröte, meiner Base,
Friedlich einst im Teiche schwamm.

'Vetter Hummer!' rief Frau Base
Da auf einmal mit Gekreisch,
'Schaut, dort unterm Weidenstamme
Schwimmt ein Happen gutes Fleisch!'

Kaum hört das die Frau Forelle.
Schießt sie zu auf jenes Stück;
Aber ich war grad so schnelle,
Hielt sie fest am Schwanz zurück!

Schwamm dann selber rasch hinüber,
Voller Hunger, voller Gier --
Schwapp! -- da lag ich schon in Grase,
Und das Fleisch lag neben mir.

I raced after the meaty lure,
Filled with hunger, fueled by greed --
And! -- then I found that I was landed,
For the bait had done its deed.

Also hat man mich gefangen,
Niemand hilft mir in der Not.
Schuld an allem ist die Kröte ..."
Uff! -- da war der Hummer tot!

[ 5 pages, circa 3' 15" ]


Joachim Ringelnatz

 

The text is found in a small collection, now wrapped into larger Ringelnatz anthologies, titled Was Topf und Pfann' erzählen kann, Ein lustiges Märchen (1910) which is correctly attributed to both Hans Bötticher and his partner of that time, Ferdinand Kahn. Ringelnatz was the nom de plume for Bötticher, and this humorous group of poems speaks of various foods in stories, mostly "coming to a boil" in a variety of ways. For many other settings of Ringlenatz' comic genius, click here.

 

 

In a boiling bath a lobster
Growled with rage: "What crisis deep!
The heat! It wrecks my greenish beauty
Staining it purplish-red so deep.

Oh, I'd had a happy life once
In the peaceful ocean muds,
With Miss Froggy, she a cousin,
Midst the gullies and ocean floods.

'Cousin Lobster!' hollered Froggy
In a singular croaking screech,
'Look, appearing there before us,
A tasty morsel within our reach!'

Like a flash a trout swam for it,
Shooting at the dainty fare;
But I was oh so quick to answer,
Clawing at her snout to snare....

Thereupon I was imprisoned,
No one came, sparing this, my fate.
All because Miss Froggy hollered...."
Uh -- the lobster was ready for a dinner plate.

 

Rhymed paraphrase by the composer

 

Anthropomorphizing is a human practice across many cultures, sometimes made for humor and sometimes made to elicit sympathy to change another's behaviors. This is a fine case of the former, for nothing in the story moves us to give up lobster, when it is to our liking. Such anthropomorphizing brings to mind with irony a news item from a year or more ago in which the national and international leaders deeply involved in climate change politics -- making the earth into the fictional character, Gaia, by similar anthropomorphic transformation of a tale -- were said to have dined on lobster at one pricey, gala affair. Criticism of the lavish nature of such "carbon footprint" rich meetings gored the international hob-nobbing affairs in a variety of ways, as the ongoing debate between science and politics sings mostly of money through these modern times. Green, it seems, refers to lobsters and more, though colors change when the heat is on. The very human question remains: which one dines and which one is dined upon.

 

The opening is without key signature, for so chromatic is the cadenza-like beginning gesture. The various motve cells find their way into the long strophic setting rooted in E flat minor, as at measure 12 and beyond. The D minor over B flat acts as a flavorful dominat to the dark tonic minor, as the tale unfolds in the voice of the lobster -- until the last moment when said voice must be stilled, and the tale brought to its comic/tragic close.

 

 

 

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.

 

Im heissen Bad