Nein! - (2008)    

Christian Morgenstern

for medium or high voice and piano


Pfeift der Sturm?
Keift ein Wurm?
hoch vom Turm?


Es ist des Galgenstrickes
Ende, welches ächzte,
gleich als ob
im Galopp
eine müdgehetzte Mähre
nach dem nächsten Brunnen lechzte
(der vielleicht noch ferne wäre).

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 10" ]

Christian Morgenstern


This "quite impossible" set of images, as one commentator calls them, pictures sounds which might be one thing but are quite another -- the sounds of the hangman's noose, painted in an odd and darkly whimsical fashion.



Blows the wind?
Nags the worm?
High in a tower?


It is the gallows' rope's
end, which groans,
quite like
in a gallop
a tiring weariness
licks after the next whirling
(which is likely still further away).


The strange yet comical upset of this portrait in words is begun with a polytonal gesture, D flat against C which becomes the pedal against the tonic's following IV and V chord succession. This two voiced texture becomes more widely voiced as the vocal line enters.



The wind moves the rope quickly and then abates as does the stormy winds, that image with which the poem begins. As such the triplets also abate into duplets and then slower yet as the musical rope and its longer chords become more still, reposing on the subdominant.




The score for Nein! 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.