Lynn Gumert,



Nothing but flowers and songs of sorrow

This composition for guitar and tenor recorder is about the destructiveness of war. The title comes from an Aztec poem about the conquest of Mexico:


Nothing but flowers and songs of sorrow

are left in Mexico and Tlatelolco,

where once we saw warriors and wise men.

We know it is true

that we must perish,

for we are mortal men.

You, the Giver of Life,

you have ordained it.

We wander here and there

in our desolate poverty.

We are mortal men.

We have seen bloodshed and pain

where once we saw beauty and valor.

We are crushed to the ground;

we lie in ruins.

There is nothing but grief and suffering

in Mexico and Tlatelolco,

where once we saw beauty and valor.

Have you grown weary of your servants?

Are you angry with you servants,

O Giver of Life?

From Cantares mexicanos, 16th cent.

tr. from Nahuatl into Spanish

by Angel Maria Garibay K. English translation by Lysander Kemp


The piece begins with a slow unmetered recorder solo featuring glissandi and bent tones. The guitar enters in a slightly faster tempo on a quiet D-minor melody. The guitar gradually speeds up, then the recorder speeds up until both are in the same tempo. Both instruments gradually become more discordant and more in conflict, reaching a climax with crossed strings in the guitar and multiphonics in the recorder. At the end, an altered version of the recorder melody returns, this time supported by coloristic touches in the guitar. The piece ends quietly in the hope that beyond the songs of sorrow there may be new flowers for those wise enough to see them.


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Copyright 2014 by Lynn Gumert.

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