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Three Anti-Modernist Songs

Word count: 289

Song Cycle by Henry Dixon Cowell (1897 - 1965)

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1. A sharp, where you'd expect a natural

Subtitle: Directions for Composing a Wagner Overture

A sharp, where you'd expect a natural,
A natural, where you'd expect a sharp;
No rule observed but the exceptional,
And then (first happy thought!) bring in a Harp!
No bar a sequence to the bar behind,
No bar a prelude to the next that comes;
Which follows which you really needn't mind --
But (second happy thought!) bring in your drums!
For harmonies, let wild discords pass;
Let key be blent with key in hideous hash;
Then (for last happy thought!) bring in your Brass!
And clang, clash, clatter -- clatter, clang and clash!

About the headline (FAQ)

2. Hark! from the pit a fearsome sound

Hark! from the pit a fearsome sound
That makes the blood run cold;
Symphonic cyclones rush around --
And the worst is yet untold.
No -- they unchain those dogs of war,
The wild sarrusophones,
A double-bass E-flat to roar
Whilst crunching dead men's bones.
The muted tuba's dismal groan
Uprising from the gloom,
And answered by the heckelphone,
Suggest the crack of doom.
Oh mama! Is this the earthquake zone?
What ho, there, stand from under!
Or is it the tonitruone
Just imitating thunder?
Nay, fear not, little one, because
Of this sublime rough-house;
'Tis modern opera by the laws
Of Master Richard Strauss.
Singers?  They're scarcely heard nor seen --
In yon back seat they sit;
The day of Song is past, I ween:
The orchestra is "it."

About the headline (FAQ)

3. Who wrote this fiendish "Rite of Spring"?

Who wrote this fiendish "Rite of Spring"?
What right had he to write the thing?
Against our helpless ears to fling
Its crash, clash, cling, clang, bing, bang bing?
And then to call it "Rite of SPRING,"
The season when on joyous wing
The birds melodious carols sing
And harmony's in every thing!
He who could write the "Rite of Spring,"
If I be right by right should swing!

About the headline (FAQ)

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