The Waking Sun, 5. A king is he

5. A king is he
A king is he who has no fear; a king is he who naught desires. Such kingdom on himself each man bestows. —Thyestes 

If you can have a fuguing tune without the fuguing part, “A king is he” is that piece. I started to write the imitative section that should follow the homophonic opening, but was dissatisfied with every idea. So I repeated the opening, with minor variations in the voices, and peeled away the accompaniment.

I put in most every “wrong” voice-leading I could think of: doubled major thirds, tripled octaves, directisms, parallelisms, and clashes of various sorts. This was to show, I suppose, how fearless, as a king, I was.

The plan was that “A king is he” would be the last section, with “In whose kingdom shall you die?” appended at the end. But it more and more started to sound like a sermon. Now, sermons have their place; I gladly hear one every week. But I don’t think they have a place in music. One could set a sermon to music, but it would cease to be reasoned discourse. Similarly, music attempting to put forward a position ceases to be music.

In any case, the next section grew in importance as an entry into the most appealing aspect, to me, of Seneca’s thought.

18 Jun 2011. The Waking Sun. The Crossing, Tempesta di Mare. Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, 8 pm

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