If freckles were lovely


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.

If earth 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.

If fear was plucky, and globes were square,
And dirt was cleanly and tears were glee
            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