Il 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.
The piece also exists in a ‘translation’ for flute, piano, viola & cello.
Instrumentation: flute, 2 clarinets, viola & cello/flute, piano, viola & cello
Duration: c. 8″
Premiere: 27 June 2012 by Gemini Ensemble, Hyun-Jin Yun (cond.), St Magnus Festival, Orkney, UK.
Further performances: 9 December 2012 by Area21 Ensemble, Mischa Tangian (cond.), King’s College London, UK.
14 March 2013 by Psappha, Mark Heron (cond.), Bangor New Music Festival, UK
11 May 2013 by Ensemble Platypus, Echoraum, Vienna, Austria.