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poet's Foucault

Sheet Music: Score

The poet's Foucault : nine pieces for three musicians on a poem by Umberto Eco / by Elliott Gyger.

by Elliott Gyger (1991)

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The Poet's Foucault (1991)
nine pieces for three musicians
on a poem by Umberto Eco

I - And the linden trees quiver (sop, cl, hpd)
II - From the heart of dawn (sop)
III - Thou sinister albatross (cl)
IV - Death, thy victory (sop, hpd)
V - I offer thee my life (cl, hpd)
VI - The rubber plant is free (sop, cl, hpd)
VII - The sistrum sounds (hpd)
VIII - I count the nights (sop, cl, hpd)
IX - The hoopoe awaits me (sop, cl)

The text for this work is a poem "written" (or at least compiled) by a computer, randomly ordering lines which have been fed into it. The creation of the poem occurs halfway through Umberto Eco's novel Foucault's Pendulum, and may serve as something of a microcosm of that book's central theme: the joyous, random association of unrelated ideas, in a never-ending quest for significance.

The present work takes Eco's poem as the starting point for a whimsical exploration of the relationship between text as meaning, text as sound, and music. In contrast to the disordered (and even dismembered) treatment of the words, the music is very highly ordered, with each short movement a self-contained, closed structure. In particular, the piece exhibits an obsession with powers of three: there are 31 performers, 32 movements, 33 different pitches in each movement, a rhythmic framework of 34 beats in each movement, 35 notes in each movement . . .

I count the nights, the sistrum sounds . . .
Death, thy victory,
Death, thy victory . . .
The rubber plant is free.

From the heart of dawn
Thou sinister albatross.
(The rubber plant is free . . .)
Death, thy victory.

And the linden trees quiver.
I count the nights, the sistrum sounds,
The hoopoe awaits me,
And the linden trees quiver.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (26p. -- B4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Advanced

Duration: 12 mins

Contents note:

And the linden trees quiver -- From the heart of dawn -- Thou sinister albatross -- Death, thy victory -- I offer thee my life -- The rubber plant is free -- The sistrum sounds -- I count the nights -- The hoopoe awaits me.

First performance by Jane Edwards, Catherine Playoust, Simon Docking — 14 May 94. Old Darlington School, University of Sydney.

Includes full text and performance notes.

Text from 'Foucault's pendulum' by Umberto Eco.

This is a handwritten edition — it is not typeset.

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