Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund



Old Manuscript - (2011)    

Alfred Kreymborg

for medium or high voice and piano


The sky
is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun
and the moon
keep their diary.
To read it all,
one must be a linguist
more learned than Father Wisdom;
and a visionary
more clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
one must be an apostle:
one who is more than intimate
In having been, always,
the only confidant—
like the earth
or the sea.

[ 2 pages, circa 2' 30" ]

Alfred Kreymborg


The text is found in Modern American Poetry (1919),  Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977).



The imagery of "old parchment" paired with characters as fanciful as Father Wisdom and Mother Dream suggested a minimally polytonal setting, sweetly consonant in a dissonant way, colors and gentle rhythmic gestures to transport one to a land of metaphors and sense memories. Two large gestures make the whole of the setting. The first is the opening wash of polytonality, and the second is a slowly changing progression of only four chords, referring back to the opening gesture. A final play off for the piano alone brings a setting sun to this "sky."



The score for Old Manuscript 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.


Old Manuscript