Music Musicology Poetry Gallery

Needham Series
1992; 14:06 min


Treelink is based on my reading of a poem of the same name from my lyric poetry collection Untold Harmonies (1979-91). The composition is not an interpretation of the poem, but rather is the poem itself in its fullness.

Through composition, I manage to postpone the death of language (P.Valéry) that ordinarily occurs in discursive understanding. I approach the ineffable persona of the poem itself, assimilating music to its physical body. As is to be expected of a tone poem, Treelink retraces the stanza sequence of the work, but with liberties. Few intelligible language fragments are heard. Emphasis is put on the spirit of the poetic text as embodied by its sound, not on its syntactic or formal structure.

Treelink was composed with the aid of the Capybara and its Kyma language, beta-versioned on a PC. I wish to thank Shira Karman and Peg Brightman for lending me their voices.

Evening light is weighing down
on the playground oaks and maples
early this wintry day.

Here, in the snow-soft meadow,
I have stood before, happier,
not noticing the weight
in the trees, when the sun sank
to close the afternoon.

The trees have aged.

I suddenly know
they were always aching
under the heavy light.

Afternoon hides below the grass,
a raven descends, and the wind
takes years off the branches,
shifting them to my shoulders.

I return weighed down,
more certain,
more luminous.

— Otto Laske

Performances include: Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT (1992), and the Arts and Technology Symposium, Connecticut College, New London, CT (1992). The piece appeared on Neuma V in 1992.