Score One for the English Major Mom!

As a Music Composition major, my son has been writing a piece of music this week for a composition challenge at his university. Art students supplied original artworks for inspiration, and the student composers were each given a piece of art and matched up with a performer or group of performers. My son is working with a solo vocalist, a soprano he has written for before. His inspiration art is a drawing of a devilish creature called “The Laughing Demon.”

In this challenge, he would have only a few days to write the music and rehearse it before today’s concert. But with a vocalist rather than an instrumental player to work with, he would need lyrics. So he planned to do what the students in the composition department usually do when they need lyrics to an original piece but don’t have the time or literary training to write them: he would use a poem in the public domain.

A couple days ago, when he started his piece, I suggested a few poems about demons or other evil supernatural creatures. But he already had some great ideas for the music and decided to compose first and find lyrics later. Besides, nothing I suggested came close to what he needed to fit the music he was writing. The lyrics had to be about a demon that was laughing, as the title of the artwork said, because he had already incorporated a laughing sound into his music.

Yesterday evening he texted me in a bit of a panic. He had finished the music, but he and the vocalist had to start practicing for today’s concert, and he still needed lyrics.

English Major Mom came to the rescue. I did another search, and found him a Robert Frost poem that’s in the public domain, about a guy who is hunting a demon who is laughing at him. It’s called “The Demiurge’s Laugh.” (A demiurge is a supernatural creature who has control of the material world and works against the spiritual realm.) He said it was perfect, and that he would adapt it to fit his music and then start rehearsing with the soprano.

The concert is this evening. I can’t wait to hear the final song!

The Demiurge’s Laugh

It was far in the sameness of the wood;
I was running with joy on the Demon’s trail,
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god.
It was just as the light was beginning to fail
That I suddenly heard—all I needed to hear:
It has lasted me many and many a year.

The wound was behind me instead of before,
A sleepy sound, but mocking half,
As of one who utterly couldn’t care.
The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh,
Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went;
And well I knew what the Demon meant.

I shall not forget how his laugh rang out.
I felt as a fool to have been so caught,
And checked my steps to make pretence
It was something among the leaves I sought
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see).
Thereafter I sat me against a tree.

robert frost

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