For treble voices in four parts (SSAA) and piano. English.
Three Japanese Lyrics, for treble chorus and piano, uses poems by the well-known Japanese children's poet, Michio Mado, in English translation by The Empress Michiko of Japan. The poems provide great insight into our relationship with the natural world.
A Pleasant Landscape consists of two contrasting musical ideas which suggest the duality of horizontal placidity and vertical excitability found in the poem. Horizontal water is musically rendered by a limited range of notes, clustered harmonies and multiple simultaneous rhythms suggestive of rippling waves. Vertical trees are represented by strong, ascending arpeggios. The mountain, which combines both horizontality and verticality, is represented by combining these two musical ideas. The Sino-Japanese word for landscape, san-sui, is a combination of two words: mountain and water. This reflects the ancient Chinese dual principle of Yin and Yang. When these dualities are balanced there is a feeling of stability, a sense of being "at home" in the world.
A Dog Walks is a fugue which expresses the bewilderment of a person attempting to unscramble the complex motions of the legs of a walking dog. This musical form has been used because a listner must use his ears to unscramble the contrapuntal voices just as an observer must use her eyes to unscramble the movement of the dog's legs. The fugue is four voiced to match the four legs. Several contrapuntal devices common to a fugue are employed, including: augmentation, stretto, and inversion. In order to determine "which leg comes after which," the poet decides to tie a different bell on each leg. This clever idea, however, proves to be an unsuccessful solution to the problem, because the sounds of the bells become equally as indeterminate as the motion of the dog's legs.
The gentle, delicate music of Butterflies expresses not only the rapt attention of a person observing sleeping butterflies, but also the quiet and graceful nature of butterflies themselves.