21. Night song

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Text: Peter Bird, 2013:


NIGHT SONG
Paunsagunt, Kaibab, and Kaiparowits
walk under the stars.

Pinyon, ponderosa, and bristlecone
whisper the wind.

Kanab and Nankoweap
flow on through the night.

Shinumo. Tokawana. Shinumo.

Star.

Musicians: SATB chorus and one drum.

Length: 3:45

Program notes: This style of this song is inspired by both Native American and African choral traditions. The Paiute place-names in the text fix it in the lonely lands north of the Grand Canyon: the High Plateaus around the Arizona-Utah border. (Paunsagunt, Kaibab, & Kaiparowits are the great plateaus which frame the country; Kanab & Nankoweap are two permanent creeks which supported small Indian villages.) This song expresses the joy of togetherness on a starry night with gentle breezes in the pines and perhaps a far-off sound of running water.

Performance suggestions: This is a shingled part-song consisting of repeated 4-bar phrases of 5/4. The diatonic pitches are easy to read, and the only challenge is to count correctly until this meter becomes natural. As each voice part has only 4 or 5 distinct phrases (totalling 16 or 20 distinct bars), it is not hard to memorize. It could serve well as a concert-closer (or encore number) in an evening concert.

[desert night, Iran]

desert landscape with fire, Iran

Bertil Videt, 2004

WikiMedia Commons

[from Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon]

sunset from Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon, Arizona

Tobias Alt, 2007

WikiMedia Commons

[Bryce Canyon]

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Peter Bird, 2012

[from Black Rock Desert]

Milky Way from Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Steve Jurvetson, 2007

WikiMedia Commons

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles