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“Come Down, O Maid” – Music for Tennyson’s “The Princess” by Rodney Rawlings

“Come Down, O Maid” – Music for Tennyson’s “The Princess” by Rodney Rawlings

The New Renaissance Hat
Rodney Rawlings
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The Rational Argumentator is pleased to feature the most current arrangement of Rodney Rawlings’s musical adaptation of lyrics from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s 1847 poem, The Princess. This is a piano rendition, following up on Mr. Rawlings’s 2004 version of this piece for string orchestra.
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Composer’s Description: In the link below I present a piano rendition of my song “Come Down, O Maid.”
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The song is my musical setting of a Tennyson lyric that appears in his long poem The Princess (1847). Those much-loved verses, which I have presented at the very bottom of this post, have been described as “a summons to the valleys of domestic affection, away from the heights of idealism and abstraction.”

MP3 file for piano rendition (left-click to listen, right-click to download): “Come Down, O Maid”

Length: 4:46

If the reader is looking at my lyrics here while listening, it should be borne in mind that, because the vocal part is also represented by a piano sound, in a couple of sections it is harder to distinguish the two aurally:

 

Away below the frozen mountain

Deep in the valley was a shepherd,

And he sang:

 

Come down, O maid, come from yonder mountain:

What pleasure lives in height and cold? Come down, and cease

To sit a star on the sparkling spire.

Love is of the valley, O come thou down

 

And find him there,

Hand in hand with Plenty;

Nor cares for Death and Morning on the silver horns,

Nor firths of ice, furrow-cloven falls;

Let them dance thee do-own

To find him there.

 

(Transitional musical passage)

 

O maid, come down;

Leave the monstrous ledges

To spill their wreaths

That like a broken purpose waste:

So waste not thou;

All the vales await thee-ee;

Azure pillars arise to thee.

 

My shepherd pipe, children too, are calling,

Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;

The rivulets so clear hur’ying through the la-awn,

The moan of doves,

And murmuring of innumerable bees.

 

The maiden lived in splendoured height

And deep in the valley there the shepherd

Sang to her.

 

© 2011 Rodney Rawlings

 

Here are Tennyson’s actual verses:

 

COME down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:

What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang),

In height and cold, the splendour of the hills?

But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease

To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine,

To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;

And come, for Love is of the valley, come,

For Love is of the valley, come thou down

And find him; by the happy threshold, he,

Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,

Or red with spirted purple of the vats,

Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk

With Death and Morning on the silver horns,

Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,

Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice,

That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls

To roll the torrent out of dusky doors:

But follow; let the torrent dance thee down

To find him in the valley; let the wild

Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave

The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill

Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,

That like a broken purpose waste in air:

So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales

Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth

Arise to thee; the children call, and I

Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,

Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;

Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro’ the lawn,

The moan of doves in immemorial elms,

And murmuring of innumerable bees.

 

As can be seen, this stunningly beautiful work was freely adapted to form the lyrics of my song. As well, I composed a musical framing theme providing context for the thoughts and feelings expressed.

Rodney Rawlings is a Toronto writer and composer/songwriter. He arrived at the concept of hypercomplex numbers independently, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to guide him.  See his YouTube Channel

A Musical Paean to Halley’s Comet – Composition by Rodney Rawlings

A Musical Paean to Halley’s Comet – Composition by Rodney Rawlings

The New Renaissance Hat
Rodney Rawlings
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The Rational Argumentator again features this piece by Rodney Rawlings — a musical paean to Halley’s Comet — the feeling of the once-in-a-lifetime expectation and approach of the comet, its spectacular and beautiful show, and its eternal farewell.

Listen to the MP3 file of the composition here.

Length: 3:44

Rodney Rawlings is a Toronto writer and composer/songwriter. He arrived at the concept of hypercomplex numbers independently, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to guide him.  See his YouTube Channel

Reconstruction on Ground Zero – Musical Composition by Rodney Rawlings

Reconstruction on Ground Zero – Musical Composition by Rodney Rawlings

The New Renaissance Hat
Rodney Rawlings
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The Rational Argumentator again renders available Rodney Rawlings’s composition envisioning the rebuilding of the World Trade Center after the terrorist attacks. The beginning signifies quiet contemplation of the ruins; the hammering notes – the construction; the ending – the completed tower.

Listen to the MP3 file of the composition here.

Length: 4:05

Image below by Sailko – available via a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License here.

One World Trade Center Under Construction in New York City – January 22, 2014

Rodney Rawlings is a Toronto writer and composer/songwriter. He arrived at the concept of hypercomplex numbers independently, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to guide him.  See his YouTube Channel

“To Venus and Mars” by Rodney Rawlings – Amanda Neal, Soprano – World Premiere

“To Venus and Mars” by Rodney Rawlings – Amanda Neal, Soprano – World Premiere

The New Renaissance Hat
Rodney Rawlings and Amanda Neal
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Soprano Amanda Noelle Neal performed Rodney Rawlings’s song “To Venus and Mars” at New Brew Chicago’s “A Warm Welcome” concert on May 16, 2017, at The Elbo Room, Chicago, Illinois. This was the first live, public performance of the full song.

Watch the video of Ms. Neal’s performance here


Description by Rodney Rawlings (March 22, 2004)

“To Venus and Mars (The Spaceman’s Lament)” is another song from my musical The Watcher on the Shore, offered in the hope of sparking interest in the play’s production. The theme of the song is the homesickness that would undoubtedly be felt at times by a lone explorer of deep space—especially if he thought he might never return to Earth. Utterly alone and impossibly far from one’s home planet, would the thought of perhaps never again experiencing earthly life be bearable?

Of course, many pioneering spirits would not be afflicted with thoughts like this; their deep-seated passion to explore and learn would overwhelm all other considerations. In fact, in the play, the song is sung by one who does not wholly identify with such spirits. But one must admit that the case of outer space is extreme, and I can’t help but think that even the strongest souls might now and then succumb to such a sentiment. Especially in the coming early years of interplanetary travel, travelers may have to contend with a new malady consisting in a soul-destroying longing and nostalgia.


Lyrics for “To Venus and Mars” (May 29, 2017)

While children down here in the fields
Catch fireflies in jars,
So grown men chase evening light …

… To Venus and Mars
Someday a brave man will go,
Someone who can bear to be launched
And leave us below.

But deep in the sky
He will lose sight of the earth
Ere catching that one final glimpse—
Stuff of memoirs—
Knowing he’s bound on a course
To Venus and Mars.

—-

Now he must seek other realms instead.
It was time for those last looks to end.
Echoes remind him of what they said
When he first heard their call to ascend:
“Do you find most of this globe absurd,
“With its throngs, restless passions, and tears?
“This world is vain, as we’ve often heard.
“Do you long for a mission that’s one-way
“To Venus and Mars—to Venus and Mars—?”

—-

Near Venus and Mars,
Yet might he grow ill at ease
To gaze on them, visions of Earth
Taint all that he sees?
This trav’ler may soon
Dream he will one day return
To mingle on streets full of life,
To chase falling stars
And quite serenely look up to Venus and Mars.

(Spoken:) And quite serenely look up
(Sung:) To Venus and Mars.


Rodney Rawlings is a Toronto writer and composer/songwriter. He arrived at the concept of hypercomplex numbers independently, using Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to guide him.  See his YouTube Channel

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Amanda Noelle Neal is a Chicago-based lyric soprano with degrees in Vocal Performance from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and Loyola University New Orleans. While pursuing her Master’s Degree at CCPA, Amanda performed the roles of Genovieffa in “Sour Angelica”, Ariadne in “The Abandonment of Ariadne”, and The Unseen Voice in “The Deliverance of Theseus”, both by Darius Milhaud.

Amanda has sung lead and supporting vocals in multiple bands in Chicago. She is a member of the all-female opera-improv troupe Forte Chicago. See her YouTube channel.