“Polyphony”……..and my new string quartet…..

Poulenc and Satie

Poulenc and Satie

One of the nice aspects of being a composer is that you are quite often at home and can therefore do several things at once. I have sometimes tried to see just how many simultaneous activities I can combine. On the way to the computer this morning (in order to gather some random numbers – I have a program for that), with a sketch in my hand for the new string quartet, I remembered to call the harpsichordist Gerard van Vuuren to apologize for not accompanying him to the movies yesterday to see a Garbo film. In the middle of that we got on to the subject of Poulenc’s La Grenouillere song which I like very much and which I am referring to in the quartet. He emailed me the text, which I couldn’t find. It’s by Apollinaire and Gerard is an Apollinaire fan.

Suddenly I remembered that I had to turn the onions in the kitchen, so I excused myself. In the end I got the random numbers I wanted and returned to my desk. So by my count, that was three tasks completed in a “polyphony” of activity.

My friend John at school, with whom I had a (sadly) brief fling-ette had an ambition to fart, shit, come, burp, spit, cough and pee all at the same time. That’s as impossible to perform as a Xenakis piano part, but it’s worth contemplating anyway. Once, at a School Speech Day, John told me about another fantasy of his. On such occasions he liked to imagine that all the dignitaries sitting on the platform were actually sitting on the toilet. We began to laugh and couldn’t stop. He-he.

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