30. Sharawadgi (Gracious disorder) (5 songs)

Whole cantata in one document or file:

See/Hear/Download: Score (PDF)     MIDI (65 KB)     MP3 (16.8 MB)     Sibelius8 (199 KB)     MusicXML (3.2 MB)

Or, obtain as separate songs:

1. Daoist song: Score (PDF)     MIDI (15 KB)     MP3 (3.3 MB)     Sibelius8

2. Parting from Su Wu: Score (PDF)     MIDI (12 KB)     MP3 (3.2 MB)     Sibelius8

3. Old poem: Score (PDF)     MIDI (11 KB)     MP3 (3.0 MB)     Sibelius8

4. Sailing homeward: Score (PDF)     MIDI (15 KB)     MP3 (2.9 MB)     Sibelius8

5. I built my hut: Score (PDF)     MIDI (16 KB)     MP3 (4.5 MB)     Sibelius8

Musicians: SATB chorus, flute, and piano.

Length: 3:31 + 3:26 + 3:11 + 3:02 + 4:50 = ~18 minutes.

Program notes:

The word "sharawadgi" ("gracious disorder") may derive from Japanese "shara'aji". It was introduced to the West in 1690 as a description of landscape designs which do not include any symmetry or other simple geometry. It also refers to the intrusion of natural processes into a composed scene, like pine needles falling onto a marble bench. Similar concepts occur in Daoism and Zen, where they may be expressed as ideals:
    Accept the world; do not attempt to compose it.
    Embrace time and change; do not resist.
Those who follow these precepts may find joy; those who struggle against them will often come to sorrow.
These 5 classic Chinese poems, beloved for centuries, are perfect sutras on these themes. They were translated by Arthur Waley, and published [1918] in "A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems" which is available from Project Gutenberg.
Like the natural world, the music for these poems is more Romantic than Classical, more spontaneous than planned, and more fractal than symmetric.


1. Daoist song (Chi K’ang, 223-262 AD; tr. Arthur Waley [1918])

I will cast out Wisdom and reject Learning.
My thoughts shall wander in the Great Void.
Always repenting of wrongs done
will never bring my heart to rest.
I cast my hook into a single stream,
but joy as if I owned the land!
I will loose’ my hair and go singing;
to the four frontiers all join my song.
This is the message of my tune:
“My thoughts shall wander in the Great Void.”

2. Parting from Su Wu (Li Ling, d. 74 AD; tr. Arthur Waley [1918])

This special time will never come again.
In moments now—our parting will be over.
Anxiously—we halt at the road-side.
Hesitating—embrace where fields begin.
The clouds above are floating ‘cross the sky;
they swiftly, swiftly pass; or blend as one.
The waves of wind are drifting out of place;
they roll away, each to a different Heaven.
And so with us—so long to be apart!
So, let us stop again a little while.
If I could ride on wings of morning wind
I’d go with you, unto your journey’s end.

3. Old poem (anonymous, 1st c. BC?; tr. Arthur Waley [1918])

At fifteen I went with the army.
At fourscore I came back.
On the way I met a man from the village;
I asked him who was left at home.
“That, over there, is your house,
all covered over with trees and brush.”
Rabbits ran in at the dog-hole;
Pheasants flew down from the roofbeams.
In the courtyard was wild grain,
and by the well, some wild mallows.
I’ll boil the grain to make a porridge.
I’ll pluck the mallows to make soup.
Soup and porridge are both cooked,
but no one’s here to eat them with.
I went out and looked to the east,
while tears fell and wet my clothes.

4. Sailing homeward (Chan Fang-sheng, 4th c. AD; tr. Arthur Waley [1918])

Cliffs that rise a thousand feet
without a break;
Lakes that stretch a hundred miles
without a wave;
Sands are white through all the year,
without a stain;
Pine woods, winter and summer
Streams that forever flow and flow
without a pause;
Trees that for twenty thousand years
your vows have kept:
You have healed the pain of a traveler’s heart,
and moved his brush to write a song.

5. I built my hut (T’ao Ch’ien, 365-427 AD; tr. Arthur Waley [1918])

I built my hut in town and by a road,
yet hear no noise of passing horse and coach.
Do you know how that came to be?
A heart that’s free creates a wilderness.
I pluck chrysanthemums at the eastern hedge,
Then gaze long at the distant summer hills.
The mountain air is fresh at dusk of day;
The flying birds now two by two return.
These things enfold a meaning that is deep;
Yet when we speak of it, words fail.

[Huangshan mountains]

1. Daoist song
Huangshan mountains, by Arne Huckelheim, 2009
Creative Commons

[terraces in Yunan]

2. Parting from Su Wu
terraces in Yunan, by Jialiang Gao, 2003
WikiMedia Commons

[old house in Hangzhou]

3. Old poem
old house in Hangzhou, by Diego Cambiaso, 2012
Creative Commons

[Li River in Guangxi]

4. Sailing homeward
Li River in Guangxi, by Charlie Fong, 2004
WikiMedia Commons

[sunset in Pakistan]

5. I built my hut
sunset in Pakistan, by Ghulam Ali Chisti, 2017
WikiMedia Commons

Fresh Choral Music Online, by Peter Bird of Los Angeles