BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS, THE (PART 1)

BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS, THE (PART 1)

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Instrumentation
fl/pic,2perc,vln,vcl,pf/cel
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Year Authored (or revised)
Duration (min)
25:
Movements
Amphisbaena
The Rain Bird
The King of Fire & His Steed
The Satyrs
The Double
The Sirens
Amphisbaena Retroversa

Detail

Description

From the CRI CD:

Just as imaginary beings are, almost by definition, symbols of inner reality, the eight pieces that constitute THE BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS
are expressions of elusive, vague, mysterious and occasionally mystical
states of feeling evoked by associative imagery. Its literary source is
the book of the same name by Jorge Luis Borges -- a compendium, really,
of the more illustrious creatures of the mind. Here are the
superscriptions to the several movements, (and occasional bracketed
remarks by the composer) adapted from Borges's bestiary:

I.
AMPHISBAENA. "The amphisbaena is a serpent having two heads, the one in
its proper place and the other in its tail; and it can bite with
both... Amphisbaena, in Greek, means 'goes both ways.'" [The ferocious
amphisbaena's end is not really its beginning: its shape is a line, not
a circle. But since this opening movement reappears in retrograde as
No. 8, it is a musical palindrome as well as a bestial one, which is,
after all, a very good reason for being an imaginary being.]

II.
THE RAIN BIRD. "When rain is needed, Chinese farmers have at their
disposal...the bird called the 'shang yang'... The tradition runs that
the bird drew water from the rivers with its beak and blew it out as
rain on the thirsting field."

III. A KING OF FIRE
AND HIS STEED. "This almost unimaginable fancy was attempted by William
Morris in the tale 'The Ring Given to Venus'...

As a white flame his visage shown,
Sharp, clear-cut as a face of stone;
But flickering flame, not flesh it was;
And over it such looks did pass
Of wild desire, and pain, and fear,
As in his people's faces were,
But tenfold fiercer..."

IV.
A BAO A QU. "There has lived since the beginning of time a being
sensitive to the many shades of the human soul. It lies dormant...until
at the approach of a person some secret life is touched off in it, and
deep within the creature an inner light begins to glow." [The poetical
source for the almost constant drumbeat lies in the inanimate being
brought to life-its heart made to pulsate. The more prosaic source was
the beating in my clogged ears during a bad cold.]

V.
THE SATYRS. "Satyrs were thickly covered with hair and had short horns,
pointed ears, active eyes, and hooked noses. They were lascivious and
fond of their wine. They set ambushes for nymphs...and their instrument
was the flute."

VI. THE DOUBLE. "The ancient
Egyptians believed that the Double, the 'ka,' was a man's exact
counterpart, having his same walk and his same dress. Not only men, but
gods and beasts...had their 'ka.' In Yeats's poems the Double is...the
one who complements us, the one we are not nor will ever become." [This
piece is a gloss on a pretty piece by Saint-Sa'ns: his music represents
the bird's superficial beauty; mine, its latent inner ferocity, both
aspects in collage. The white swan and the black swan, as it were.]

VII.
SIRENS. "The Odyssey tells that the Sirens attract and shipwreck
seamen, and that Ulysses, in order to hear their song and yet remain
alive, plugged the ears of his oarsmen...and had himself lashed to the
mast...In the sixth century, a Siren was caught and baptized in
northern Wales..."

VIII. AMPHISBAENA RETROVERSA.

The Book of Imaginary Beings
was written in 1971–72 for the players who are heard on this recording,
and who gave the first performance on May 7, 1972 at the National
Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. during the American Music Festival
under the direction of Richard Bales.

Comments

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First Perfomance

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Recording

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Text Language - Non English

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Text Source/Author

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Ensemble Type
mixed instrumental ens 6 to 15 players
Genre/Theme

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Files & Media

Audio
Parris_The_Book_Of_Imaginary_Beings_I.mp3
Audio file
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Sample Pages

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