Now Say Nay

Medium: Vocal

Sop, Fl, Cl, Perc, Guit, Pno, Vc

‘Now Say Nay’ for soprano and ensemble is a setting of the poem ‘Now’ by Dylan Thomas. Though Thomas claimed that the poem meant nothing, the theme of death pervades most (if not all) of its five stanzas in some way. What is most striking is its curious stanza structure, word repetitions, half rhymes and playful word choice. He seemed to be in love with words, forms, and structures in their own right. It was this what I wanted to reflect in my setting. Each recurring word is set in the same way (the exact same notes and contour), and each half rhyme is motivically linked in the accompaniment. The recurring mantra, ‘Now, say nay,’ uses the same repeated note motive, though with a couple of variations (the fourth stanza, for instance, repeats a D instead of an A-flat). As it turned out, I had just as much fun enjoying my own musical games as I’m sure Thomas had in playing his word games.

‘Now Say Nay’ has recently been absorbed into a larger piece called ‘White Blossoms,’ which includes another text setting of mine, ‘Afield,’ based on a poem by Rita Dove.



Commissioned by

Ensemble 61

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