as thou never cam’st in sooth

for orchestra

spring 20225:30

as thou never cam’st in sooth started life as a development of motifs from two songs about parting and loss: Kommen und Scheiden by Robert Schumann (op. 90/3) and Come to me in my dreams by Frank Bridge. I have dissolved and reassembled this material so that it’s now barely distinguishable.

orchestral specification: timp perc.1 (sus-cymb. tam-tam) perc.2 (vibr. B.D.) strings

A shadow of Schumann’s arpeggio from a C♭ to an E♭ appears at letter D, while the disembodied, dissolved ghost of the Bridge appears in many places as a falling semitone. Letter F is a corrupted, brutalised version of a piano motif from the Bridge, a motif that seems to be about grief that appears just after the following text:

Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth.Matthew Arnold: Come to me in my dreams

Sooth means truth. The obvious meaning is that the person never came to the speaker in the real world, so they can only unite in their dreams. Perhaps I can spin out another meaning: the missed individual came in the real world but not “in truth.” They came with something awry inside, with feelings or intentions that were not “truthful,” and this caused the relationship to sicken. The relationship does not have to be about romantic love and it may be more interesting, more troublesome, if it’s a relationship we cannot choose.

Backdrop image by Jesse Bowser