for a cappella chorus
2006, rev. 2010 | 5"
Text by CARL SANDBURG
Tenor BRADLEY CHAPMAN of the LA Master Chorale has, incredibly, multi-tracked all 8 parts of Lost himself:
Lost was one of those pieces that just happened; it was a force of nature. I was twenty-one, and writing anything at all was an epic struggle. I encountered Carl Sandburg's poem on a hot, lazy summer day, and I felt as if my body had been transformed, Kafka-like, into a giant, ringing tuning fork. It was the feeling of hitting a baseball, hard, exactly on the harmonic node of an aluminum bat, the vibrations rioting up my arms and through my teeth.
I slammed music paper down on our dining room table and wrote the entire piece—all eight parts, by hand—only in rhythms. I had never written that way, but it felt intuitively right. Only upon reaching the end did I then go back and figure out the pitches––melodies, harmonies––I had had in my head. I wrote the whole piece in that single day.
Being twenty-one, though, my ambitions were considerably ahead of my technique, and the piece languished, unperformed, for years. It's still a very difficult piece, but the original was unsingable.
Returning, years later, dusting away the innocent beginner's mistakes (voice-leading!) but changing nothing wherever I could (harmony! color!), I finally found the music that shot through my body with such force that summer afternoon.
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) | Chicago Poems (1916)
Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor’s breast
And the harbor’s eyes.