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C.34 - "If only we could see the wind"

Composed: ~March to April 2013

     Ah, this one. This piece coincided with my sudden interest in poetry, for at the same time I was taking an English course at college. And the bulk of any English course includes the lovely art of poetry. I  ventured out to write some of my own, and the first poem was one apt little fellow entitled "If only we could see the wind" which I attach thus:

Figure 1: My first poem, "If only we could see the wind"

If only we could see the wind;


the wake it follows, how majestic.

Gentle grasps grazing amidst the grass

like cattle amongst the prairie,

but watch closely, it is there; a harsh, coarse

personality, as if forged by fiery fury to blaze not

amaze. A swipe through the air, as a sword, guiding

an unseeable line. Monotonous to strike again and again

to gain pleasure, to gain torturous pleasure. A house

soon decapitated as its skin splinters the sky.

Mercy left a long time ago, leaving cruelty

to collect the cries as the last

breaths are breathed.


If only the wind couldn’t see us.

Jonathan Shaw

21st March 2013 14:04

     Luckily, this was one of the few things in which I couldn’t have been more specific as to when I finished it. This was also during my college hours that the poem was finished, and, well, I don’t really need to analyse it here. But this poem formed the basis of this next composition – a vocal fugue.

     I wrote the music first before attaching the words to it – a dreadful mistake – and I never finished attaching the words thereafter as it was not flowing at all successfully. The fugue itself is one particularly swift and dissonant, but surprisingly works. It is in essence a contemporary fugue which, while staying true to some degree to Baroque principle, is rather extreme. Of course, most of that is due to my sheer inexperience. Nevertheless, there is something I quite enjoy in this fugue looking back; perhaps it is its persistent forward propulsion – it never rests until the end – and the bizarre tonal shifts are much more in line to how I write today.

     You can note how often the fugal subject appears, which is surprisingly often, and is quite joyful in how it plays into each voice. I remember specifically that bar 93 was adopted from Stanford’s Ye Choir of New Jerusalem which we had recently sung at my local church choir (and is a glorious piece at that!). The chord I used at bar 93 appears in Stanford’s piece, and as cheap as I can be, I used it here.

     This was also one of the genres (a vocal fugue) I briefly mentioned in my National Youth Orchestra interview, which garnered some interest from my interviewers, as I recall them stating ‘Oh, we’ve not had that before’, probably in a negative taste, but ah, that matters not.

     Nevertheless, this piece has always been quite dear to my heart, as I have some strange obsession with wind – I feel it is always out to get me – and this piece is one of the reasons I think why.

Reminiscence written on 4th June 2016

Last updated: 20th October 2018

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