The Grave Was Too Small So We Had To Take the Horse Out

ENS.2013.6 | 10′
Poems by Heather Christle
2 Sopranos, Violin


1. Castle

2. We Have To Account For Gravity

3. It Is Like Surgery But It Is Not Surgery

4. Kinds of Weather

Heather Christle is one of my favorite contemporary poets, and I have long intended to set a group of her poems. This project began as a set of nine songs for two sopranos with clarinet and violin, and on July 6th and 7th 2013 I composed all nine songs by hand on paper—you know, the way it used to be done. Unfortunately upon completion I immediately realized most of them were sort of terrible. Luckily the four that weren’t terrible were all with solo violin, and since two were for two voices and two for solo voices I just went with those.

The basic idea behind this piece was to write straightforward melodies supported by as simple and repetitious an accompaniment as possible, hopefully imparting a kind of naïve sophistication to the music. I ended up somewhere between Satie and the Mountain Goats, which sounds about right.

The title comes from an interview with Christle in The Believer magazine; it was a title she came up with at a party for somebody else’s untitled poem. Of course there could be no other possible title for this cycle.