Never Handle Firearms Carelessly (Mezzo-Soprano/High Version, also for Tenor)

Year of composition
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Difficult (Grades 7+)
8 minutes
Modern classical music
Voice + keyboard
Instrumental parts
Not available

"Never Handle Firearms Carelessly" comes from a speech given by Samuel Clemons (a.k.a. Mark Twain) to a graduating class. In setting the text to music, I hoped to match the brilliant sarcasm of America's most famous satirist. First, I chose a blatantly atonal setting for the text to emphasize the verbal caricatures. Also, I used word painting wherever possible, employing a variety of puns as well as literal connections. (Pay special attention to the words, "laughing", "bang", "cathedral", "female", "shudder", and any numbers mentioned in the text.) Finally, I transcribed every individual mood or feeling that I felt when reading the text. In the end, the piece, like the text, carries two purposes: to create humor at the expense of the listener's expectations and to warn those who might aspire to become composers against the misuse, overuse, and abuse of textbook developmental devices.

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