I THE BIRTH OF THE WAR GOD
Text from Angel Marta Garibay''s Epica Nahuatl
Translated from the Spanish by Jerome Rothenberg
II THE CLOUD WILL BREAK
Collage text by Charlie Morrow with materials from Jerome Rothenberg''s: 15 Flower World Variations
III THE CANTICLE FOR BROTHER SUN
Text by St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)
Translated by Jerome Rothenberg
Music by Charlie Morrow
Sung by THE WESTERN WIND Vocal Ensemble
I. THE BIRTH OF THE WAR GOD (AZTEC) (33:42)
NOTES BY CHARLIE MORROW:
"When I made WAR GOD, most of my composing was oral. I was chanting, improvising personal journeys into myself as various characters and at various ages; later, sky songs and dream songs (trance singing). A long story was ideal for a semi-planned fanned-out-self drama. The Aztec mythology seemed to correspond to some of my most angry character selves and most sweet observer selves.
I sang the epic in layers into a 4 track tape recorder, self engineering. After it was mixed to stereo, I decoded/translated it into western notation and recipes for sounds/feelings/chanters.
At the time of composition, the United States was waging an undeclared war in Vietnam. I chose to score the story of the Aztec war god because of the scale and sad irony of viewing the terrible war of the Aztec people who were wiped out by invading Europeans- us.
We European/Americans were fighting in Asia a people connected ancestrally to the Aztecs. Today the prophecy of WAR GOD, of the proliferation of violence, is still here. Listen!"
The English version is by Jerome Rothenberg after a Spanish prose version in Angel Marta Garibay''s EPICA NAHUATL - going back to Nahuatl sources delivered soon after the conquest. Huitzilopochtli himself was not only the war god, but god of the Fifth Sun -- of the era, that is, into which this world was moving, itself represented by the (heiroglyphic) sign for "movement"; more specifically, according to Laurette Sejourne, ("Burning Water", 1956), by a movement towards liberation from contradiction and duality. "Huitzilopochtli, image of the sun, disguised as a (humming) bird and with fire as his sign, represented the soul of a combatant in the holy war".
1. THE BIRTH OF THE WAR GOD (33:42)
Old Coatlique Snake Woman finds a ball of feathers which falls from the sky. She puts it between her legs and to her surprise grows pregnant with the war god Huitzilopochtli. Her 400 sons, led by their sister Coyolxauhqui, are enraged by their mother''s pregnancy and decide to kill her. One of their number, Cuahuitlicac, betrays his siblings and tells Huitzilopochtli, who is still in the womb, what is about to occur. As soon as he is born, Huitzilopochtli arms himself, kills his sister (who describes her own death) and most of his brothers, driving the survivors to the south.
 PROLOGUE (1:59)
(A prologue announces the title of the work and the singers chant the epithets of Huitzilopochtli -- hummingbird on the left, hummingbird on the south, and the color blue.)
 ONE! (11:32)
old Coatlicue snake woman
woman of the serpent skirt
woman of the pleated skirt
old Coatlicue snake woman
''s sweeping up
a feather falleth on her
more like a ball of feathers ''twas
that moment she did pick it up
deposited it betwixt her legs
sweeping would want to take it out
from legs but nothing''s
there that instant
she''s grown pregnant
the 400 Brothers saw their mother pregnant
a great anger fills them
"who hath made thee pregnant
"made thee into mother
"it lays on us
"it shames us
(says their sister Coyolxauhqui)
"who has laid it
"on us has made
"what grows betwixt her legs
Old Mother knows it now''s
so scared a great weight
lies on her the child
between her legs brings
"I know now what I have to do"
Snake Woman hears her boy''s
was a great comfort
calmed her heart
was blowing full of
 TWO! (6:22)
400 Brothers would agree
those southerners did then
how they would take their mother''s
for shaming them
so fierce 400 Brothers were
were full of
wrath as if their hearts were
leaving them for anger
sweet sister Coyolxauhqui
''s working up and cooling
anger of her brothers
will go and kill
they prepare for
are dressed for it
strut like generals
spinning and tangling
entanglement of headhairs
was among them one
but couldn''t keep his
what 400 Brothers said
he told Huitzilopochtli
"thou should always be standing
"some planning of my own
 THREE! (1:23)
so had made up their minds
to kill her
be finished with old mother
had started marching
''twas little sister guided
so like a bunch of dudes
dressed up for war
had passed out
"strut in files
"be like a perfect squadron
guide thy way
[45 FOUR! (0:59)
but Cuahuitlicac has
to peak of mountain
there he would speak with
(Huitzilopochtli sez) "fix
"your sights on them
"which way they
"now ''mongst the linnets"
(sez) "now which way"
(sez) "Snake Sands"
(sez) "now which"
(sez) "Hanging Terraces"
(sez) "Mountain Slope"
(then sez) "& now"
(sez) "at the peak now
"now 400 Brothers
"come sweet sister
 FIVE! (4:47)
(A feather falleth )
was born that moment
lined up his gear
his shield of eagle feathers
darts" so-called) & paints
his face with
colors like the "painted child"
puts on his head a bonnet
of rare feathers
fits in earplugs (but also had
one skinny foot wore
feathered sandal on the left
his thighs & arms
in blue) then one
called Tochancalqui set fire to
the turquoise spears
went to give Huitzilopochtli
orders with his dart
the newborn wounds their sister
her throat the head
''s abandoned on Snake Mountain
body goes rolling down the slope
smashes to smithereens
here & there
 SIX! (3:16)
now was Huitzilopochtli
swollen now was going in pursuit
now was stalking them
would make them shimmy down would
make 400 Southerners
climb the summit of
Snake Mountain (& when
he sees them all before him
when he spots them
on the slope that instant
he pursues them
stalks them like rabbits
around the mountain
four times Huitzilopochtli made them
go around it four times
pace off the circuit of Snake Mountain
would vainly try to freak him
with din of timbrels
vainly would tumble towards him
to sound of bells on ankles
& banged their shields)
they could make nothing
worked out now
now nothing for defense
they had were stalked by
drove them off
wiped them out
did nothing so much as chase them
hard did stalk them
& they would plead with him
 SEVEN! (2:27)
but Huitzilopochtli couldn''t stop
with greater fire
would burn his anger at them
& pursued them
only a few escaped his presence
squirmed from his hands they headed
south (would afterwards be called
400 brothers gone
that one direction)
those who had fled his hand like those
he killed on whom
he gorged his anger
did strip their clothes from
he took possession of &
joined unto his office
made them the marks of what
he would become
(Hummingbird, Hummingbird, Hummingbird...........
II. THE CLOUD WILL BREAK (5:39)
(A light study for voices and emulator)
Collage text by Charlie Morrow with materials from Jerome Rothenberg''s 15 Flower World variations.
THE CLOUD WILL BREAK is about breaking up a love relationship: anger,
sadness, the need for space. Personal words are combined with texts from Rothenberg''s Yaqui Flower poems. The emulator II is a sound memory. Sounds can be articulated by keyboard or by auxiliary computer.
The sounds in the emulator are the voices of the Western Wind. The plastic memory of the emulator is metaphorical of the composition''s theme.
Robert Kinkel programmed his emulator with the Western Wind voices for The Cloud Will Break. He has been playing synthesizers for 20 years and also plays organ and other keyboards. He studied music and physics at Hamilton College, and he has worked with Charlie Morrow on various projects.
 II. THE CLOUD WILL BREAK (5:39)
There''s no room........
I love her, I love her.
I set her down, I set her down.
I do not want these flowers moving, but the flowers want to move.
Out in the flower world
The dawn over a road of flowers
I do not want these flowers moving, but the flowers want to move.
I''m moving out of this period,
I''ve been reading the diaries.
Enthusiasm, Depression. Enthusiasm, Depression.
I''m listening for the next music.
Now the cloud will break. The cloud will break.
There in the flower world under the dawn
This pale blue cloud will be Grey water at its peak
The mist will reach, will rain down.
Shining, shining, shining,
and reaching bottom.
Now the cloud will break,
The cloud will break.
III. THE CANTICLE FOR BROTHER SUN (19:04)
Text by St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)
translated by Jerome Rothenberg
The Canticle for Brother Sun is an intense animistic praise poem. Reverberations of natural environments, and linguistics of herds of animals and schools of fish and heterophonic treatment of melody are linked in my mind, using readily audible numerical relationships by which the text is systematically expanded and vibrated – hopefully tuned to the ascending energies of St. Francis'' vision. (C. Morrow)
 THE CANTICLE FOR BROTHER SUN (19:04)
Most high omnipotent good lord:
all praise is yours and honor glory
yours and only yours
and no one living fit to say your name.
Be praised my lord for all your creatures
but especially for Mr. Brother Sun
because you show us light and day through him
and he is lovely glowing with great shine
from you my lord: his definition.
Be praised my lord for Sister Moon
and for the stars
because you made them for your sky
their loveliness is white and rare.
Be praised my lord for Brother Wind
and for the air and cloudy days
and bright and all days else because
through them you give your creatures
Be praised my lord for Sister Water
because she shows great use and humbleness
is hers and preciousness
Be praised my lord for Brother Fire
through whom you light all nights upon the earth
Because he too is lovely
full of Joy and manly strength.
Be praised my lord because our sister
Mother Earth sustains and rules
us and because she raises
food to feed us: colored flowers
Be praised my lord for those who pardon
by your love and suffer illnesses and grief
Bless those who undergo in silence
the poor for whom you hold a crown.
Be praised my lord for Sister Death-of-Body
whom no one living will escape
and pity those who die
in mortal sin
and everyone she finds
who minds you
bless: no second death
to bring them hurt.
Oh praise my lord and bless my lord and thank
and serve my lord with humbleness. Triumphant.
Charlie Morrow was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1942. He studied at Columbia University and at the Nannes School of Music in New York City. A chanter, composer, and the founder of the New Wilderness Foundation he is noted for his crosscultural, cross-species explorations, focusing especially on a variety of ethnic chanting traditions, including Hebrew cantillation and Native American shamanistic song. He has collaborated closely with poet Jerome Rothenberg, who has been a major influence on his work. Morrow has written other solo and group pieces for the WESTERN WIND, including Light Opera, a theatre piece performed at La Mama ETC. He also wrote a work for 30 harps, Wave Music VII, for the Cathedral''s Harp Event. His mass event, Citywave, for the City of Copenhagen, Denmark, used 1000 performers moving through the streets of Copenhagen, conducted by radio. His recent work, Metropolis Copenhagen, was part of the series Sound Portraits of Great Cities, commissioned from various composers by Westdeutcher Rundfunk (West German Radio).
Jerome Rothenberg is a major figure in recent American poetry, whose poems and groundbreaking anthologies - Technicians of the Sacred, Shaking the Pumpkin and America a Prophecy - helped open the mythic and mystic poetries of ancient and modern cultures throughout the world. He has pioneered experimental translation, in particular the translation of oral and visual poetry, and has been an active participant in the creation of a new American performance poetry. Two of his soundplays, The Beaver''s Hörspiel and That Dada Strain (Der Dada Ton), were recently produced for Westdeutscher Rundfunk, and his adaptation of Rolf Hochhuth''s The Deputy appeared on Broadway in the 1960s.
THE WESTERN WIND Vocal Ensemble
Lawrence Bennett, tenor;
William Lyon Lee, tenor;
Elliot Z. Levine, baritone;
William Zukof, countertenor;
Johana Arnold, soprano;
Alimo Russell, soprano.
The WESTERN WIND Vocal Ensemble has played a significant role in rekindling America''s awareness of the special beauty and variety of a’capella vocal music. The Western Wind''s repertoire reveals its wide-ranging interests... from Renaissance motets to rock n''roll from medieval carols to barbershop quartets, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest of folk melodies.
The WESTERN WIND has appeared at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, University of California at Los Angeles, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other distinguished institutions. The group has had triumphant tours in Germany and Italy performing contemporary American vocal music and Italian Renaissance music. In 1985 the WESTERN WIND performed American and Latin American music throughout East Asia at the request of the State Department (USIA).
The WESTERN WIND has collaborated with some of America''s most gifted composers Philip Glass created the vocal part in his score for the film Koyaanisquatsi for the Western Wind. Composers William Bolcom, Tania Leon, Ronald Gold, and Robert Dennis are some of the other composers who have created works for the WESTERN WIND.
The WESTERN WIND''S association with Charlie Morrow began in the early 1970''s with THE BIRTH OF THE WAR GOD which was first performed on a program of early and contemporary American music. This association with Charlie as a collaborator, colleague and friend continues today. His most recent work for the ensemble, THE CLOUD WILL BREAK, was written for a concert of Morrow''s music that was presented at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City in October, 1985.
Compact Disc produced by Herschel Burke Gilbert
Recording Engineer: Mikhail Liberman, LRP
Digital Productions Recording Assistant: John Gilbert
Mastering Engineer: Bernie Grundman
JVC CD Pre-Mastering: John Acoca
Cover sculpture: Shalom
Cover photo: James Lichacz
Album design & graphics: Guenther Maier
Recorded in St. Paul''s Church, Jersey City, New Jersey, with Neumann SM-2 Stereo Intensity Microphone and two Neumann TLM 170 microphones on the Technics SP00 Digital PCM recorder. Edited on Sony DASH 3202, mastered on Sony 1630.
This CD was produced with partial funding from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Music Recording Program.
All selections published by Other Media, (ASCAP) 365 West End Avenue, New York, NY 10024 (212) 246-7430