Sheet Music: Score
Economy of wax : for soprano, flute/piccolo, viola and harp / music by Nicholas Vines ; text by Charles Darwin.
by Nicholas Vines (2009)
In 2010, as a celebration of the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of his Origin of Species, soprano Jane Sheldon and biologist/philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith commissioned a number of composers to set extracts from this landmark work for soprano and chamber ensemble. These pieces, known collectively as The Origin Cycle, were premiered on Apr 28th in the Harvard Museum of Natural History by Firebird Ensemble, with subsequent performances in Palo Alto, Halifax (Canada), Canberra and Sydney (Australia). My contribution, Economy of Wax, revolves around Darwin's meticulous detailing of how bees construct honeycomb. The music reflects this structure's intricate mathematics, most audibly its regularity through a particular harmonic event of two seconds duration every twelve seconds. The intense activity of the bees themselves is captured in fluctuating time signatures and waxing and waning tremolo and trills. At the heart of this setting, however, is Darwin's obsessive immersion in his subject, best exemplified by the ecstatic heraldry which accompanies the final scientific conclusion.
Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (47p. -- A4 (portrait))
Difficulty: Advanced — Rhythmically very difficult - needs a conductor
Duration: 10 mins
Includes full text, and performance instructions.
Text by Charles Darwin
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Analysis & Media
- Video: Economy of Wax
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