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RebeccaSaunders:

MollysSong3ShadesofCrimson
HannahReardonSmith,2ndyearManaMa

RebeccaSaundersunusualtrioforviola,altofluteandguitarwithradiosandmusicboxwas
writtenin1996andgivenitspremierethefollowingyearinBrusselsbyEnsembleQo2.

Saunders(born1967)isaBritishcomposerwhohaslivedallofherprofessionallifein
Germany.ShestudiedwithWolfgangRihminKarlsruhe,andwhilehisinfluenceisevidentin
hermusic,herstylelookssomehowbeyondpostwarGermanexpressionismintothequiet
determinationandZenfocusofAmericanexperimentalistsCageandFeldman.Inthispiece,her
postLachenmannianattentiontothedetailsofinstrumentalsoundispatientlydeveloped,before
beingwildlycontrastedwithanabruptinterruptionbyloudradiostaticandthewhimsicaltinkling
ofamusicboxplaying
DerKaiserwalzer
(JohannStraussII).

InthispaperIwillexamineSaunderschoiceofmaterialandcompositionalstructurein
Mollys
Song3ShadesofCrimson
withregardstoitsliteraryconnectiontothesoliloquyofMolly
Bloomwhichtakesupthefinal50pagesofJamesJoyces
Ulysses.

MollysSong3
andMollyBloom

SeveralofSaundersworksarenamedforthecharacterofMollyBloom.
CRIMSON:Mollys
Song1
(1995)isscoredforthelargerforcesoftwelvesoloists,mechanicalmetronomes,
whistlesandthreemusicboxes.Fromthatwejumpstraightto
MollysSong3
(no
MollysSong
2
appearsinSaundersoeuvre),whichhasadistinctqualityofuncomfortableintimacyindeed
reminiscentofJoycesfrankandexplicitattempttodelveintothemindofwoman.

ThelastfiftypagesofJoycesnovelarewritteninMollysvoice,meanderingthroughher
thoughtsineightgiantsentences.Mollybeginsbysmartingatherhusbands(LeopoldBloom)
unusualrequestforbreakfastinbedcomemorning,andthenwandersoffintomanyaspectsof
herandBloomslivestogetherandapartsuchastheirtenyearsofcelibacytogether,her
onlyrecentlycommencedinfidelity,theothermeninherlife,thepotentialofherfuture
encounterwithStephenDedalus,hersexualdesireandpreferences,herdistasteofcertain
malebehaviours,herchildhoodinGibraltar,andfinallythemomentwhensheacceptedBlooms
proposalofmarriage.Duringthistimesheshiftstorelievebuiltupgas,andrealisesthatshe
hasbegunmenstruatingandgetsuptousethechamberpotsuchvividdescriptionsofthe
bodilyfunctionsandtherealityofthethoughtsthataccompanythemintensifythereaders
sensationthattheyareobservingsomethingtheyreallyshouldnt.

Mollyssleeplessthoughtsaremusicallylyrical,presentedwithoutpunctuation,andwith
repetitionandemphasisreminiscentofcommonmusicalforms.Perhapsthisispartlya

referencetothefactthatsheisamusicianamoderatelysuccessfulclassicalsinger.In
Mollys
Song3
,sonicideaslikewisereturnagainandagain,aslinksandinterjections.

Saundersfrequentlytitlesherworksarecolours,andinparticulararchaicreds(crimson,
vermillion,scarlet,cinnabar,rubricare).Inthisinstance,thecrimsoninthetitlesofboth
MollysSong1
and
3
ispluckeddirectlyfromJoycestextneartotheveryendofMollys
monologue(andtheendof
Ulysses
),whereshespeaksofthecrimsonofthesunsetsoverthe
seaseenfromGibraltar,theBritishruledislandoffthesouthernmostpointoftheIberian
peninsulaandMollyschildhoodhome:Oandtheseatheseacrimsonsometimeslikefireand
theglorioussunsetsandthefigtreesintheAlamedagardensyes.Thecolouralsolinksbackto
therushofbloodthataccompaniestheonsetofherperiod:havewetoomuchbloodupinusor
whatOpatienceaboveitspouringoutofmeliketheseaanyhowhedidntmakemepregnantas
bigasheis1.

ThereferencetothecharacterofMollyinthetitleof
MollysSong3
clearlyindicatesa
subjectivedimensiontothework.Itgivesusanexpectationofasonglike(andthus
subjective)elementinthework,onlyemphasisedfurtherbythelyricismoftheJoyceanstream
ofconsciousness,andthefactthatMollyisherselfasinger.Butratherthantheobviouschoice
ofakindofthemeandvariationsmodelledonthetext,Saundersgivesusthreeinstruments
takingonan
absoluteminimum
expressivesubjectiverole.

Thisiscurious,becauseshethensetsthisminimalsubjectivityoffagainstafullersubjectivity
inthemusicbox,that,asmusicbox,isakindoflostfullness.

DerKaiserwalzer

ThemusicboxmelodythatemergesoutoftheradiostaticistheprimarythemeofJohann
StraussIIs
DerKaiserwalzer
.Thisworkwasoriginallycomposedasasignoffriendship
betweentherulersofAustriaandGermany.

Saundersisaknowncollectorofmusicboxes,sotospecifythistuneinparticularmustmeanit
hasaparticularconnectionforhertothispieceandpresumablytoMollyBloom.HoweverMolly
nevermentions
DerKaiserwalzer,
Strauss,oranythingtodowithViennesewaltzes.Neitheris
thereanyevidentconnectiontopitchorothermusicalmaterialsintheworkuntiltheguitartakes
upa(very)warpedversionofthemelodywhilethemusicboxisstillplaying.Saundershas
madereferencetoheruseofthesestrangeandkitschmusicalobjectsasBritishroots
elaboratedbyGordonKampeasaspecial,Britishkindofmelancholy2.Infact,Britainseems
tobehometosomeparticularlyenthusiasticfansofJohannStraussII,asthereisahighly
activeJohannStraussIISocietyofGreatBritain!Howeverdespitesomeinvestigation,Ihave
uncoverednothingfurthertoindicatethemeaningofthisparticularchoiceofmusicboxmelody.
1

QuotationsextractedfromJoycestextathttp://www.onlineliterature.com/james_joyce/ulysses/18/
FromthelinernotestoEnsemblemusikFabriksSaundersdisc,ontheKAIROSlabel:
http://www.omm.de/cds/klassik/KAIsaunders.html(translationbythestudent).
2

Inawayitseemssignificantbecauseofits
nonrelation:
inwhimsicalcontrasttothecomposed
material,underscoringitsheterogeneity.

Yes

Inalettertoafriend,JoycewroteofMollyssoliloquythatyesisthefemaleword3Mollys
repeatedyesbothbeginsandends(musically,triumphantly,cadentially)hersoliloquy.In
Saunderspiece,theopeningexplosivegesturebytheviola(doubleattacksee
Material
types
below),alongwithsimilarexplosiveinterjectionsandattacksbyallthreeinstruments
throughoutthework,haveahighlyaffirmativequality,especiallywhencomparedtothe
hollowedoutmiddlesectionandthenostalgiaofthecracklingradiostaticandthemusicbox.In
thisway,IviewtheseexplosivegesturesasrepresentingMollysyeswithinthepiece.They
repeatinasimilarwayinthefinalsectionofthepieceasinthefinallinesofMollyssoliloquy,
althoughdonotclosetheworkwiththefinalityanddefinitywithwhichthenovelcloses(thework
endswiththeviolatakingaslowupwardglissbeforefallingintoasoftandsustainedGandAb,
theintervalthatcontinuallyreappearsthroughout).Theexplosivenessalsosuggestsepisodes
ofsexualrapture,somethingthatMollythinksaboutinfrankterms,whichalsoholds
connotationsofthewordyes.

Formandmaterials

Globalobservations

MollysSong3
consistsofadenseandassertiveopening,aneerilyhollowinterlude,andafinal
sectioncaughtsomewherebetweenrecapitulationandcoda.Thesethreemajorsegmentsare
interspersedwithtwoviolacadenzas,thefirstofwhichdissolvesintotheinterlude,thesecond
cutoffabruptlybythecoordinatedentranceofallfourradios(controlledbytheflutistand
guitarist)atfullvolumestatic.

Assuch,Saunderssetsthelisteneruptoexpectsomethingresemblingtheclassicalsonata
form,butagainandagainshepullstherugoutfromunderneathus.Whenonelooksatitin
moredetail,theformof
MollysSong3
becomesdefinedbyitsgaps:aninterruptiveform.

Itisalsoworthnotingthedifferenttexturaldensitiesthroughthepiecethefirstmainsection
hasmaximumverticaldensity(allthreeinstruments)andhorizontaldensity(withfrequent
attacksandpercussivearticulations),whereasfuturesectionshavemuchlessverticaland/or
horizontaldensitytheviolasolosstandaloneorwithsparsealtofluteresonances,themiddle
partisdistinctlyhollowincharacter,withregularanddelicatepulsesemergingintheviola
col
legnobattuto
offsettingthelongtonesoftheotherinstruments,andwhiletheclosingsection
withthemusicboxhasmaximumverticaldensity,itisfarfromthemaximumhorizontaldensity.

Fromaletterquotedinhttp://www.nybooks.com/articles/1972/03/23/whymollybloommenstruates/

HereIhavedemarcatedaformalstructure,givingcharactertitlestoeachofthesections.

Exposition
Theme1:Tension(bars134)
Theme2:Echo(3556)
Cadenza1:Frustration(57108)
Development
Interlude:TheMissingDevelopment(109148)
Cadenza2:HereWeAreAgain(148164)
Recapitulation
Interruption:StaticandNostalgia(165167)
CodaRecapitulation:YesanditsResonance(168200)

Materialtypes

Despitewhatmightbeinferredfromthelongandcomplexexplanatorynotesthatgreetyou
uponopeningthescore,Saundersisworkingwithaminimumofmaterials,carefullyselected
andintroducedwithrestraint.

1. Doubleattacksvla:eg.bar1

2. Heldtones(singletones,2nds)allinstruments(guitarplayedwithanEbow):eg.bar1
(vla),bar4(fl),bar107(gu)
3. Percussiveeffectsallinstruments:eg.bar1(fl,gu),bar35(vla)
4. Strummedarticulationsgu:eg.bars3033
5. Glissandivla,gu:eg.bar10(vla,gu)
6. Harmonicsweepattacksfl:eg.bar35
7. Stringcrossingsweepattacksvla:eg.bar68
8. Pizzchordsordeadenedstrummingvla,gu:eg.bar35(vla),bar37(gu)
9. Scratchdropoffvla:eg.bar51
10. Metallicaccentsgu:eg.bars119,128
11. Bottleneckwavesgu:eg.bar168

Thesematerialsmaybedividedintothreecategories:audiblypitchedmaterial,
percussive/unpitchedmaterial,andaninbetweencategoryofmaterialsthat,whilepitched,
soundmoreasaneffectthanashavinganyinfluenceontheharmonic/melodicfieldatthat
momentbeyondabriefcolourationIwillcallthisthirdcategorycolouredeffects.

Harmonicmaterial

Pitchedmaterialappearsassustainedtonesandglissandialmostconsistentlythroughoutthe
work,carriedbyeachoftheinstrumentsatdifferentpoints,althoughpredominantlyledbythe
viola.Severalexplosiveattack/yesgestures(doubleattacks,harmonicandstringcrossing
sweeps)alsofallintothiscategory,andgenerallyservethepurposeofintroducingor
4

emphasisingthesustainedpitchesthatfollow,howevertheydontappeartoaltertheharmonyif
theydontbreakintolongertones.

Thissustainedpitchmaterialworksgraduallythroughalmostalltwelvechromaticpitchesas
followsIhavemarkedGandAbinred,astheycontinuallyreturnthroughout:

Theme1:
G&Ab
A,Bb,C
Theme2:
Bb&A
B
Cadenza1: G&Ab(F#)
F#&G,C
C#&A
Ab,Bb&B,B&G,B&F#,G
Ab,G&C
Interlude:
Bb&C(plusA,Ab)
F(appearsbrieflyasaharmonic,112)
B&Bb
B,F#
C&B
C&C#
Cadenza2: G&F#/Ab
Eb,G&D(appearsbrieflyasaharmonic,152)
G&Ab/F#
Coda/Recap: F(warpedEMaj)
G&Ab

Soinorderofappearance:G,Ab,A,C,Bb,B,F#,C#,(Fasaverybriefharmonichint),Eb,(D),
andthenFinthefinalCodaRecapitulation.

Eisnotablymissingasasustainedsound,howeveritdoesappearfrequentlyintherepeated
openstringedguitarstrumsinthefirstpartofthework.Itisalsothekeyinwhichtheguitar
playsitsechoofthemusicboxmelodyinthefinalsection,warpedbybottleneckwaves.In
addition,manyoftheviolaFsinthisfinalsectiondipbelowbymicrotones,creatingtheillusion
ofaleadingtoneE.LikewiseDandEbeachappearclearlyonlytheonce,inthesecondviola
solo(bars151152).Nevertheless,itisparticularlystrangethattheEiswithheldinthisway,
particularlyasFdominatesthefinalpartofthework.TheFispositedasthepointof
excitement/commitmenttotheG/Abtension,andatthesametimeasakindofresolution,albeit
onethatcanalsoresolvebackintoG/Ab,asitdoesinthefinalmomentofthepiece.

ThefinaltwobarscontainaslowglissupfromBintheviola,resolvingontoaverysoftG&Ab.
ItseemstomethattheconstantreturntotheG/AbistheconstantreturnofMollytoher
marriagewithBloom.
5

Thepieceinclosedetail

Theme1:Tension

Theopeningtheme(lessamotive,moreakindofdenselypunctuatedharmony)establishes
thekeypitchesofGandAb,whichcarrythroughthewholeworkandkeepakindoftensionthat
alsotransposestootherintervalsitisclearthatthisisourprimarytension,thetensionfrom
whichallothersherehavesprung.Theviolaistheleadingvoicethroughout,withthealtoflute
occasionallyplayingakindofresonancethatmightfolloworoccasionallyprecedetheviola
notes.Theguitarisalwaysthere,underscoringtheotherinstrumentswithpercussivedetails,
initiallyinafranticcounterpointwiththealtoflutestonguepizzicatos,butastheflutemoves
towardsmoresustainedtonestheguitararticulatesalone.

Thematerialsusedhereareasfollows:
Viola:double
sfortissimo
attacks[1],sustainedtones[2]sometimescolouredwithsulponticello,
andglissandi[5](allpitchedmaterials).
Altoflute:percussivesounds[3]suchaspizzicato,semipitchedarticulations,tongueslaps
andsustainedtones[2],movingbetweeneffectssuchasaeoliansound,fluttertongue,rapid
articulation(unpitched,colouredeffects,andpitchedmaterials).
Guitar:percussiveeffects[3]suchasstrikingthebridge,body,orstrings,aswellasplayed
harmonics,rhythmicstrumming,andtheuseofametalbottleneckforaglissando[5](also
takingmaterialsfromallthreecategories).

Theme2:Echo

IntheEchosection,thealtoflutetakesoverthedominantmelodicrole,announcedbyseveral
harmonicsweepattacks.ThemainpitcheshavetransferredupwardstoAandBb.Theviola
playsapercussiverolehere,withwoodyfingerboardstrikesandrepeatedpizzicatochords,
althoughitalsoplaysaresonance/echo(bars4042)inasimilarfashiontothealtofluteinthe
previousthemeitisacaseofrolereversal,theechobecomingtheleadingvoiceandvice
versa.TheexpositionendswiththealtoflutefinallyreachinguptoaBnaturalinbar51,which
theviolaworksitswayuptosomewhatreluctantly(bars5455).

Materials:
Altoflute:harmonicsweepattacks[6]andsustainedtones[2],includingcolourationtechniques
asbefore(pitchedmaterials).
Viola:percussiveeffects[3]suchasfingerboardstrikesandpizzicatochordsaswellas
sustainedtones[2],ascratchdropoff[9]inbar51asthealtoflutereachesBnatural,anda
kindofarticulatedglissando[5](pitched,unpitched,andcolouredeffects).
Guitar:percussiveeffects[3]suchasdeadenedstrumminginterruptedbypitchedstrums[4]
(Eisanoticeablepitchhere),andadescendingglissando[5](alsoallthreematerialtypes).

Cadenza1:Frustration

Thefirstviolasoloreestablishestheviolaasthedominantsubjectivefigure,andreturnswitha
gritandpassion(thatthealtoflutecannotmanage)totheGandAb.After20barsoftruesolo
thealtofluteechoresonancereappears,thistimereflectinglesstheviolaspitchesandinstead
creatingamoreopenharmonyaCagainsttheviolasF#/GaC#againstanABagainst
F#/GCagainstG/Ab.Theguitarsitsthisoneout,andtherearenopercussiveeffectshere,
onlyemphaticpitchedaccentsbytheviola.

Materials:
Viola:sustainedtones[2],oftenwithcolourationsandaccentedbowchanges,stringcrossing
sweepattacks[7],andascratchdropoff[9](pitchedandcolouredeffects).
Altoflute:sustainedtones[2],occasionallyalsocoloured(pitchedmaterials).

Interlude:TheMissingDevelopment

Theopeningtwothemesrepresentanexposition,completewithrepetitionofelements,
howeverwherethedevelopmentshouldappearweareinsteadgreetedwiththisalmostempty
space,likeaholeatthecentreofthework.Here,theguitaristheleadingsubjectivevoice,
howeveritisapaleandinhumanone:thesustainedtonesareplayedwithanEbow,creating
theeffectofhollowdrones.Itisquieterthantheaccompanyingtonesofthealtoflute,yetis
clearlydirectingtheharmony.WestartwithaBb/Cdyad,andthereisaparticularlyimportant
andarrestingmomentinbars112113whereanFappearsasakindofghostlyharmonicinthe
guitaratwelfthaboveitsBbtheonlyFthatsoundsbeforethefinalCodaRecapitulation,akind
ofgivingitallaway.Followingthistheviolabeginsplayingthepercussiverole,butnervously
anddelicately,withregular
collegnobattuti
thatplaywithharmonicsandlaterinvolveasecond
stringwherethepitchslidesupanddown.Thesectionhasafeelingofsparseness,emptiness,
anddisappointmentconsistentwithMollysfeelingsabouthersexlessmarriage.

Materials:
Guitar:sustainedtones[2]usingEbow,andmetallicaccents[10]byhittingstringswiththe
Ebowormetalbottleneck(pitchedmaterials).
Altoflute:sustainedtones[2]withcolourations(pitched).
Viola:sustainedtones[2],glissandi[5],percussiveeffects[3](pitched,unpitched,andcoloured
effects).

Cadenza2:HereWeAreAgain

Theviolassolomaterialisverysimilartothefirstcadenzaassertive,vigorous,andreturningto
theG/Ab.Otherpitches(EbandabriefDovertheGonetwelfthbelow)appearintwobarsthat
jumpintothetrebleclefwiththemarkingwild!(151152).Boththealtofluteandtheguitarstay
mumthistime.Wearewaitingforthem,asthematerialleadsthelistenertoexpectthatweare
7

backtonormalagain,andthattheprimarythematicmaterialwillrecommence,ledinbythis
solo.Insteadtheviolacrescendosdramaticallyintoanabruptcutoffbyloudradiostatic.

Materials:
Viola:doubleattack[1],sustainedtones[2],oftenwithcolourationsandaccentedbowchanges,
andstringcrossingsweepattacks[7](pitchedandcolouredeffects).

Interruption:StaticandNostalgia

Intheexplanatorynotes,Saundersspecifiesthattheradiosshouldbetunedasfollows:
1. and3.:whitenoise
2. :whitenoiseandindistinctspeech
3. :veryhighandmovingfrequencies
Asdiverseaspossible.Qualityofradiosnotimportant.Loudbutnotpainful.Turnonandoff
togetherexactly.4

Theradiosareturnedonbytheflutistandguitaristandsoundfor21secondsbeforetheyare
switchedoff.Inthelastsecondtheviolistopensthemusicbox,sothatwhentheradiostatic
stopsitstinklingcarriesthroughthesuddensilence.

Thisblastofwhitenoisewhereweshouldbegettingarecapitulationisthesecondholein
thepiece,followingonfromtheabsentdevelopment.Afterwards,insteadofcomingbackto
normal(theacousticinstrumentsandtheiroriginalmaterial),wearethrownintoyetanother
holethemusicbox.Thisdoubleinterruption,thismovefromgaptogap,highlightsthe
fantasyofourdesires(foranarrative,forasong,forsomethingreal).Eachofthethreegaps
inthepieceare,interestingly,unifiedbytheirtechnological/mechanicaldimension:theEbow,
theradios,themusicbox.Eachisinitsownwayheterogeneoustotheotherwisetraditional
instrumentationofthework,andthereforesomehow'nonhuman'.

After13secondsofunaccompaniedmusicbox,theviolaenterscautiouslyonitsfirsthighF
(sustainedtone[2],pitched).

CodaRecapitulation:YesanditsResonance

Herethealtoflutebeginsitsyesinterjections,withloudharmonic/octavesweepattacks(also
onF).Theviolasrepeated,sustainedFsbecomemoreconfidentthecolourintensifies,the
dynamicincreases.Aftersomestandaloneyesses,theflutealsoreturnstoitsechoingrole.
Bothinstrumentsareplayingnearthetopoftheirrange.

Meanwhile,theguitarbelowisdoingsomethingcompletelynewandoutofitsprevious
characters:playinglittleupdownslideswithametalbottleneckwhatIhavenamedbottle
4

Fourthpageofexplanatorynotesfromthefullscoreof
MollysSong3ShadesofCrimson

neckwavesabove.Itsverysubtle,butinfactfrombar171thepitchesbeingfingeredbeneath
thesewavesplayoutthethemefrom
DerKaiserwalzer,
themusicboxmelody.Itisverywarped
tothepointofbeingbarelyrecognisablesoundinglikeakindofsurrealistLynchianism
howeveritisindeedthemelody,transposedintothekeyofE(themusicboxintherecordingI
have5isinDtheoriginalscorebyStraussisinC).However,itneverreachesitsfinalresolution.
Thepenultimatenote(F#),insteadofcadencingdowntothetonicE,slipsintoacontinuous
ascendingglissando,disappearingintothestratisphere.WeneverreallygetourleadingtoneE.

ThisglisseffectivelyendsthesustainedFsintheviolaandaltoflutetheviolacutsthem
definitivelywithascratchdropoff.Therearethreemoreyesgestureswhilethemusicbox
windsdown(ithasbeentinklingawayaboveeverythingthathashappenedinthissection).The
flutistfinallyclosestheboxastheguitargivesonefinalunpitchedbottleneckwaveandviola
echosthepreviousglissandooveraveryslow15seconds.Itbreaksatthetopandthework
finishesbyverysoftlyreturningtothatoriginalGandAb,sustainedonepitcheachbytheviola
andaltoflute,articulatedjusttheoncebyaguitarharmonic.

Materials:
Viola:sustainedtones[2],scratchdropoffs[9],andaglissando[5](pitchedandunpitched.
Altoflute:harmonic/octavesweepattacks[6]andsustainedtones[2](pitched).
Guitar:bottleneckwaves[11],glissando[5],andaharmonic(colouredeffectsandpitched).

EnsemblemusikFabrik,KAIROS0012182