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Pythagoras and the Four Hammers Cover Design


From The Bat-Poet - 1975

(mezzo-soprano voice & saxophone quartet
(soprano/sopranissimo, alto, tenor, & baritone))

-quartet & voice

Music by: Andrew Thomas
text by:Randall Jarrell

Copyright © 1975 Andrew Thomas - 2011 AndHow Arts, LLC

Published through: Get a Business Card

The Bat-Poet (1964)
Text used by permission

A bat is born
Naked and blind and pale
His mother makes a pocket of her tail
And catches him. He clings
to her long fur
By his thumbs and toes and teeth.
And then the mother dances through the night
Doubling and looping,
Soaring, somersaulting-
Her baby hangs on
All night, in happiness,
She hunts and flies.
Her high sharp cries
Like shining needlepoints of sound
Go out into the night and
echoing back,
Tell her what they have touched.
She hears how far it is,
how big it is,
which way it’s going:
She lives by hearing.
The mother eats the moths and gnats
she catches
In full flight, In full flight.
The mother drinks the water of the pond,
She skims across,
Her baby hangs on tight.
Her baby drinks the milk she makes him.
In moonlight or starlight,
In midair
Their single shadow,
printed on the moon
Or fluttering across the stars,
Whirls on all night.
At daybreak,
the tired mother flas home to her rafter
The others are all there.
They hang themselves up by their toes,
They wrap themselves in their brown wings.
Bunched upside down, they sleep in air.
Their sharp ears,
Their sharp teeth
Their quick sharp faces
Are dull and slow and mild.
All the bright day, as the mother sleeps,
She folds her wings about her sleeping child.

Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)

Program Notes:
I wrote this work in the mid 1970s at a time when I was trying to overcome what felt like (for me) the rigidity of the 12-tone system. I wanted its richness and complexity as a working tool. However, I also wanted results with musical and emotional meaning for me. Re-encountering the music as I copied it into the computer was a fascinating experience.  I can hear myself struggling to make the sophisticated structure expressive, communicative, and human. This was especially hard in this composition because not only the notes, but also the rhythms are serialized. That is why there are so many ties over beats, and instances where the 3rd note of a triplet is tied to the first 16th of a quarter note. I am pleased that in spite of the challenges, a subtle and even humorous piece emerged.