Some of my favorite songs and tunes are terribly hard to sing. While composing Songs That Are Hard To Sing, I was inspired by “songs” in all of their mysterious and wonderful facets: their melodies, their forms, their emotional content, the singing styles the require, the ways the make us want to move, or sing together, or laugh, or cry, or how they help us remember, or the stories they tell, the production techniques they invite, and more. While I think most of these pieces will be hard or impossible to sing, my hope is that they feel like songs in various ways, like things we might be able to sing in a parallel universe, or, most ambitious, I hope that they leave us wanting to sing them, even if we can’t. Perhaps Yeats was on to something when, in his penultimate poem Cuchulain Comforted, he tells us “Now we must sing and sing the best we can.... Or driven from home and left to die in fear.”
I was also deeply inspired by the prospect of bringing together two of my favorite ensembles: So Percussion and the JACK Quartet, whose abilities, energy, and collaborative spirit are game changing—I can't thank them enough!
Songs That Are Hard To Sing is dedicated to the memory of Larry Trueman (1935–2019), the first singer in my life.
Commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University