To the States, or any one of them,
or any city of
resist much, obey little!
Resist much! Resist!
Once unquestioning obedience,
once fully enslaved,
state, city of this earth,
ever afterward resumes its liberty.
[ 2 pages, circa 50" ]
The enthusiasm to be fully political partisan without
care for the liberty of others was a concern for Whitman, for he
knew, as did men like Chesterton and Orwell and eventually even
Shaw, that "unquestioning obedience" to any movement or ideology
would eventually result in slavery, of the mind, body and soul.
Let us review and remember the lesson, which seems
too often to be forgotten in this seemingly modern era in which, as
an answer to racism one race holds another responsible as a group
irrespective of individual culpability, rampant feminism equates
marital sex with rape, and ideological purity is supposed to trump
new and ultimately inescapable facts of human existence. When both
major political parties take all their grievances to a federal
system growing in power, the states often resist far too little.
What is at stake? Whitman tells us it is liberty
which is threatened by "obedience."
tessitura for high voice
I find the enthusiasm for many modern composers
towards various incarnations of political correctness and the
ideology of socialism to be at odds with their ostensible search for
freedom within their own art and craft. To speak with one's own
voice is specifically not to speak with another's, a lesson which
American poet, E. E. Cummings, also well clarified, though so many
more have also advocated "resistance."
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The academic enforcement of ideas such as historical
linearity in musical styles and the supposed dominance of
twelve-tone theory and set theory as the approved way forward in
music has been wrong headed and bureaucratic, at the minimum, and
moreover a complete denial of that elusive search for one's "own
voice" which these very same academicians pretended to encourage in
their students. Musical liberty has always been threatened by
"obedience," and the great masters of classical music by the
examples of their lives have not been particularly "obedient" to the
artistic authority of another. The clear lesson in this is to
compose as one sees right, and allow the passage of time rather than
mere marketing to be the judge.
tessitura for low voice
The greater lesson, however, is to apply it well
beyond the bounds of music and art alone -- rather to the state and
world in general.
I also have set of late texts by Whitman is set for
soprano and chamber ensemble, entitled,
An Echo from the Shore, as well as a choral trilogy for SATB a
Three Whitman Choruses.
The score for To the States 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.
To the States - high
To the States - low