Das Gesetz der Quadrille


Das Gesetz der Quadrille - (2012)    
Franz Kafka

for medium voice and piano


Das Gesetz der Quadrille ist klar,
alle Tänzer kennen es,
es gilt für alle Zeiten.
Aber irgendeine der Zufälligkeiten des Lebens
die nie geschehen dürften,
aber immer wieder geschehn
bringt Dich allein zwischen die Reihen.
Vielleicht verwirren sich dadurch
auch die Reihen selbst,
aber das weißt Du nicht,
Du weißt nur von Deinem Unglück.

5 pages, circa 3' 45"

Franz Kafka


The law of the quadrille is clear,
all dancers understand it,
it is valid for all times.
But one or another of life's hazards,
which would be pleasant to avoid,
these occur over and over again,
bringing you alone out of step.
but you do not know,
For you understand only by stumbling.





The quadrille was and remains a very intricate dance involving pairs of couples. With many different coordinated movements, one may fall "out of step" via a variety of lapses at a variety of different points throughout the choreography. Franz Kafka's writing speaks so often to the inept yet horrible stumbling of bureaucracies, that one may be sure this is meant herein. How often shall the individual come afoul of laws and regulations, more than any one might count? How abusive might a bureaucracy become in assigning punishment for such "stumbling?" Yet today's themes of government unable to meet its own debt obligations while raging against those which previously government had gone for loans shows the depth of the "law of the quadrille." We all understand, but by simply not being fully aware at all times, it is assured that one will fall "out of step." With a governance, with the market, with political movements and passions, with bureaucracies. I chose to mark the theme therefore a "slow Vaudeville," for this is our dance in a greater society, one which is ruled yet the rules change. The theme seems in E flat minor moving thence to D minor, and yet the harmonies and shifting patterns between duple and triple gestures settle nowhere in particular. Rather the dissonance moves on through its own vaudeville.



The 6/8 gesture as at measure 27 further enforces the "two-step" shuffling from harmonic domain to harmonic domain. The form is a verse-song structure with several strophes in its course.



The score for 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.


Das Gesetz der Qaudrille