23: Herrick

Text: Robert Herrick, “Delight in Disorder.”

Pleasantly imprecise voices in overlapping conversation:

Delight in Disorder
– Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribands to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Recorded on Sunday, October 10, 2010, 2:30 – 4 pm, in the Blue Room at the Baltimore Free School, 1323 N. Calvert.
Chorus: Kristol Das (vox), Joe Martin (guitar, mus. dir.), Dara Weinberg (vox, dir.), Gavin Whitt (vox)


Core group: We met from 1-2 pm off site. Our agenda was a review of “Emperor of Ice-Cream,” continuation of “At the Executed Murderer’s Grave” and “My Grandmother’s Love Letters.” We only completed the review of “Emperor of Ice-Cream.” This was our first meeting in the new location, and we needed to resolve some technical issues. We also found it difficult to remember all the musical choices we had made for EOIC. I think from here on out it will be necessary to begin with a review. We did, however, after some time, resurrect this structure for the poem:
– simple musical intro with the ice-cream jingle
– 1st stanza: Richard reads first line.
– Jazz funeral interlude in between stanzas
– 2nd stanza: more creepy, more restrained in volume
– 2nd musical interlude after 2nd stanza
– free-er improvisation on poem, resulting in no more than 2 repeats of the text.
I am wondering if it would be useful for me to do something like write this structure up so we can review it as we are reading. Perhaps a sort of score?

Open session: We successfully made the transfer to the Free School for the second half in under half an hour. We did not finish the equipment setup in time, but I think that, with practice, that will be possible too. One new collaborator present. We read and discussed the text of four Robert Herrick poems: “The Hag,” “Delight in Disorder,” “To The Virgins, To Make Much of Time,” and “Upon Julia’s Clothes.”

Tone was a problem in each of these (except, perhaps, for “The Hag.”) We found it difficult to find a balance between bawdiness and decorum. In texts such as “Upon Julia’s Clothes,” it was difficult not to give away the humor of it all in advance. We actually found a useful paradigm for that one when Joe suggested reading the poem through a situation from Blue Velvet, where a man finds himself trapped into being a voyeur. That added layer of discomfort brought more psychological interest to the poem for me.

We had the most successful interpretation of “Delight in Disorder,” which is the one we recorded. We found a good way of carrying forward the long sentence while still bringing in multiple voices: we had each voice read past the repeated rhyme-word, even as the replacement voice came in *before* that word.

Voice A: A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a / wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders… (trails off)

Voice B: A lawn about the shoulders thrown
into a fine / distraction:
An erring lace, which…(trails off)

Voice C: An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson / stomacher;
A cuff neglectful….(trails off)

Voice A: A cuff neglectful, and thereby…

And so on. Terza rima-esque. New voices enter at the / marking. (Caryl Churchhill’s notation, or at least that was where I read it first.)

The interrupting gave the sense of a conversation, and the continuing forward past the interruption kept the momentum of the continued rhetorical statement.

Our session ended more promptly than usual, as the Free School space was needed for a Green Party meeting. Our new Sunday time slot is going to keep us more punctual.

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