baritone or mezzo soprano (with reverb and looping capabilities) and fl, ob/eh, cl, bsn, hn, tbn, p.no, vn, va, vc, and d.b. (click here for the version for voice and sextet)


8 minutes

Commissioned by/Premiere

Albany Symphony Orchestra
with Funds Provided by the
Music Alive Residency Program of New Music USA


Purchase from Project Schott New York




Download electronics. The singer should be amplified throughout with a fairly generous amount of reverb on his or her voice. He or she is asked to loop his voice in the third movement. In the case of the premiere the singer used a hardware looping and reverb setup. The composer also provides a simple application built in Max/MSP. If looping is not possible, the electronics part can be performed by two additional singers as an obbligato part. An appendix appears in the back with this version. This part can also be prerecorded by the singer rather than looped live.

All other instruments may be gently amplified as well, with reverb.


I discovered the poetry of Bill Knott through my friend Eric Shanfield, who dumped a series of interesting documents that he’d found on the internet onto my hard drive. Among these was an unadorned file set in Times New Roman titled “ALL MY THOUGHTS ARE THE SAME, the collected poems of Bill Knott.”

I pored over this curious volume which the author (then living) posted on the internet for free. What I discovered was a humorous and passionate writer of short poems. I was particularly taken by a series of four poems that were all addressed to a mysterious Naomi. Later, when I heard he had died in late 2014, it seemed to appropriate to memorialize him with a short song cycle based on his poems.

Since each one of these short songs is concerned with love, I decided to put the entire piece in the same key (F) with each song in a different mode (different minor and major scales). The melancholy first song, ‘The Beach’, channels French Impressionism punctuated with pizzicati. The second, ‘I left’, luxuriates in long, sensuous melismas. The third, ‘When our hands are alone’, is a moment of safety and repose (featuring either electronic looping or two extra voices). And the final, ‘What Language Will be Safe?’, returns to the opening song, with an unexpected resolution.