Enmimés sont les gougebosqueux

EnmimesIl brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.
Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

Frank L. Warrin
(after Lewis Carroll)

I often find it difficult to come up with titles for pieces – having conceived them in an essentially abstract way, it feels strange to tie them to some piece of art, science or literature from the ‘real world’. When I was doing my usual routine of trawling books and the internet to find a cultural reference that might have a tenuous relation to the way this piece was turning out, I came across Frank Warrin’s French translation of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.

Jabberwocky is of course filled with nonexistent words that somehow conjure up a strong (if imprecise) sense of meaning and significance. The translation, Le Jaseroque, is thus a translation of a made-up language – masterfully preserving the semantic sense of its nonsense English counterpart. ‘Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux‘ is a translation of ‘All mimsy were the borogroves‘. It struck me that as composers, it is as if we are operating with a made-up language – none of our material has any objective ‘sense’ or meaning, but in the listener it conjures strong mental and sensual responses – responses that are fuzzily indescribable yet clear and intoxicating. My piece (like most of my other ones) is therefore merely eight minutes of sound and play – like a made-up language a few translations down the line, I hope that the nonsense herein makes some strange and beautiful sense to the listener.


27 Jun 2012 Gemini Ensemble, Hyun-Jin Yun (cond.)
World premiere of Quintet version
St Magnus Festival, Orkney, UK
9 Dec 2012 Area21 Ensemble, Mischa Tangian (cond.)
Quintet version
King’s College London, UK
14 Mar 2013 Psappha, Mark Heron (cond.)
World premiere of Quartet version
Bangor New Music Festival, UK
11 May 2013 Ensemble Platypus
Austrian premiere
Echoraum, Vienna, Austria
7 Mar 2014 Psappha
Quartet version
Cosmo Rodewald Hall, Manchester, UK
22 Apr 2014 Ensemble Konvergence
Czech premiere
Church of St. Vavřinec, Prague, Czech Republic
30 Oct 2014 Mary Dullea, Rose Redgrave, Rowland Sutherland & Alice Purton
Quartet version
Austrian Cultural Forum, London, UK

  • ‘the excellent winning piece, [Enmîmés sont les gougebosqueux] by Tom Coult, chosen from fifteen anonymously submitted scores, was full of wit and colour.’
    – Stephanie Power, Wales Arts Review
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  • Instrumentation (Quintet version)
    flute, 2 clarinets, viola & cello
  • Instrumentation (Quartet version)
    flute, piano, viola & piano
  • Duration 8 mins
  • Year 2012/2013
  • Commission
    Written on the St Magnus Composers Course 2012
  • Score & Parts
    For hire of performance materials, please contact promotion@fabermusic.com
  • View the score online