Composing Ann and Seamus:

An Exercise in Reader Response                      

Text Box: One of the more interesting aspects of the class discussions during the fall 2007 Material for Young Adults Class was the difference in reactions that a group of people with fairly similar backgrounds could have to the same piece of literature. One of the books we studied that term that inspired an unusual reaction in me was Kevin Major's "Ann and Seamus." In my case it triggered a desire to compose music as I found something inherently musical about the text. The phrasing of the ideas, though too disjointed for a traditional operatic storyline, had the feeling of libretto. It is a truly operatic story, and not just because it does not end happily. (I Suppose given the nature of tragic operas I should be happy that the main characters do not die.) When I first set out to put sections of "Ann and Seamus" to music I had intended to choose a section from each part. There ended up being four in total simply because I wrote the first, "From the Soils of England", and then decided I preferred a different section of the text from part one. All four are presented here. I was looking for a few different things during my text selection: whether the text could stand on its own as a complete idea, whether or not it would make sense out of context, and how well the text was suited to being sung .I knew when I began the writing process that I was not looking to write in a traditional maritime format. I was not interested in writing folk music. There are a couple of reasons for this; because it is not a genre I have any experience writing in and my intent was to portray the emotion and character of the text as opposed to attaching it to a particular cultural tradition. As a consequence, much of the music is dark and often discordant. The exception to this is the final piece, "The Rowing is Endless". 

The website is set up in such a way that you can listen to the pieces while looking at the musical score or looking at the text from the novel in the original layout. The impetus behind viewing the text in the original form is to give the listener an idea of how the music corresponds to the interaction of text and white space. The inclusions of the score is for those unfamiliar with musical notation to show how the music corresponds to traditional visual music formats. 
                                                                                                     Home Page

                                                                                                     Selections from Part I

                                                                                                     Selection from Part II

                                                                                                     Selection from Part III

                                                                                                     About this Project