Song of the Witches


Song of the Witches - (2010)    

William Shakespeare

for countertenor and piano

for Leandro Samuel Bermúdez Lafont

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

[ 4 pages, circa 2' 25" ]

William Shakespeare


The text is drawn from Macbeth, Act IV, scene one, lines 10-19 and 35-38. The longer scene between the three witches begins before this text scene before a caldron in a "cavern," as the stage directions insist. I have seen the play in a number of fine productions, one in which the three witches were played by actors of wildly different heights, physical characteristics and three distinctive voices, high, medium and low. The phantasmal text, as edited above and imagined for a single "witch," suggested a countertenor for this solo song setting.



The gestures are several, distinct and outline a heavily decorated and chromatically colored A minor. Upper and lower neighbors define the modal quality of the setting, as the voice declaims the text with snap rhythms and unusual intervallic leaps.



  MP3 performance by Leandro Bermúdez Lafont and Susanne Lang (2012)  


Leandro Bermudez Lafont began his training as a countertenor in his home town of Barranquilla, Columbia. In 2006 he began vocal studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, in the summer of 2012 he received his Master degree in Musical Performance in the Basel Musikhochschule. His education continues earning a Soloist Diploma in Ancient Music in Geneva, studying with Natalie Stutzman. Speyer-born Susanne Lang studied at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Mannheim. In 2005, she was in the master class of Rudolf Buchbinder. She concluded her training as a concert pianist with distinctions in the Basel Musikhochschule and in summer of 2012 she received the degree of Master of Arts in Music Pedagogy.


The score for Song of the Witches 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.


Song of the Witches