for flute, 2 clarinets, viola & cello. The piece also exists in a ‘translation’ for flute, piano, viola & cello.
Written for the St Magnus Composers Course 2012 and first performed by Gemini Ensemble, Hyun-Jin Yun (cond.), St Magnus Festival, Orkney, 27 June 2012
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’sJabberwocky.
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.