“Water Lilies” Finished!

Wow!  This was a doozy.  I just finished writing “Water Lilies,” from a poem by Sara Teasdale.  Such a moody, haunting poem.  I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It took a while to finally get a sense of what it was supposed to sound like.  Here are the words again:

“If you have forgotten water lilies floating
On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade,
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance,
Then you can return and not be afraid.

But if you remember, then turn away forever
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart,
There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies,
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.”

-Sara Teasdale

As you can tell, it’s really has nothing to do with water lilies, but what an image.  The great temptation here is to write programatically.  I tried to resist, but some stuff still came out.  Oh well, what can you do?  Instead, I really tried to capture the feelings of these image.  The mood of watching water lilies floating.  So I used a lot of tritones.  I think that’s the most important interval in this piece.  There’s a section of secundal harmonies and I even used some aleatoric devices.

I’m hesitant to post any sort of sample of what I’ve written because I really don’t know if any of this will work.  It’s REALLY difficult.  I’m not gonna lie and say that it’s “Moderately Difficult,” like so many publishers would.  This is flippin’ hard!  I really don’t know if any of it is feasible or even if it flows the way it should.  I like a lot of things about it, but it’s still really, really rough.  It’s probably going to change quite a bit before I feel confident enough to post a sample here.

Anyway, here’s to the future!

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2 thoughts on ““Water Lilies” Finished!

  1. Hi Mr. Nielsen,
    I have been working on Water Lilies with the acappella group that I have been singing with. This song is probably one of the most difficult that I have ever worked on. Ever since I first sang it, which was in January, 2013, I have not been able to get it out of my head. I think about it every day. The bass notes haunt me while I am sleeping. I actually feel like I hear the bass voices singing/whispering those notes to me in my sleep. The poem itself is really haunting, yes, but I am so in awe of how you have written a piece that is equally as haunting, if not even more so, and so very powerful. I have never heard music like yours before, and it absolutely moves me to the core…it actually consumes me at times. Thank you for sharing it.

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