Musical Moose: Strum's Song of Songs Project

So I'm finally ready to share more widely.  This diary will contain 4 demos with lyrics after the project description.  So if you just want to listen, please skip ahead.  And the very last of them was done just last night and is probably the strongest.

These are from an inclusive setting of the biblical Song of Songs (Shir Hashirim) in the original biblical Hebrew. The lyrics are approximately 2500 years old. Traditionally attributed to King Solomon, who lived a few centuries earlier than that, the book's superscription can be translated either as attribution or dedication. Accordingly, it has also been called the Song of Solomon. The Latin version is known as Canticum Canticorum, which also serves as the title of Giovanni Palestrina's amazing setting of selections of the Latin lyrics. For over two millennia, these lyrics have informed both Jewish and Christian liturgy and theology, though there is no explicit theological content. Indeed, it is largely a collection of erotic lyrics loosely united by theme and imagery. Some Jewish communities chant it on the eve of the Sabbath and it is widely chanted ritually in synagogues on the intermediate Sabbath of Passover. Rabbinic interpretations have employed its verses to express ideas about the erotic relationship between God and Israel and to illustrate points about the Exodus from Egypt, the Revelation at Sinai, the dedication of the Tabernacle, the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Israel's exilic situation in the diaspora. Rabbi Aqiva declares in Mishna Yadayim: All of the writings are holy, the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies. Christian exegetes and theologians have drawn upon these lyrics to express the relationship between Christ and the Church, Christ and the individual soul, and marian theology as well.

By rendering the book inclusively, without editorial rearrangement or comment, without excerpting or omitting anything, my song cycle leaves all of these interpretive opportunities open. It can simply be apprehended as some of the oldest recorded erotic poetry, or as part of this or that theological or historiographic tradition. Oddly, my research has not turned up another version that does this in any language (though one may yet appear out of some as yet untroubled archive) outside of traditional cantillation. I omit nothing, though words and phrases are repeated to fill out metrical lines and to serve as choruses for the 18 songs into which I have re-divided the 8 traditional chapter divisions. On a very few occasions, a lyric may be introduced just slightly out of order when interweaving lines in counterpoint. The lyrics are assigned to a male soloist, female soloist, and male and female choruses according to grammatical and narrative cues in the text.

The instrumentation will eventually include a mix of western and middle eastern instruments, especially an oud, traditional percussion, drum kit, possibly some electronic beats, reed, violin and perhaps accordion/harmonium. I've composed the entire thing from guitar riffs, but some of that may need to be trimmed or subordinated as other instruments are incorporated into the arrangements. The current demos are sketches to be filled out.
'Ana Dodi (My Beloved Answered)

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Lyrics from Chapter II of the biblical text:

Female Chorus:
My beloved answered and said to me:
Rise up my companion, my beauty, and go forth.
For now the winter is over,
the rain has passed and gone away.

Male verse:
The buds have appeared upon the land,
the time of singing is come.
And the voice of the dove
is heard in our land.

Female chorus: My beloved...

Male verse:
My dove in the crannies of the rock,
in the shade of the cliff.
Show me your appearance and let me hear your voice.
For your voice is sweet and your appearance comely.

Female chorus: My beloved...

Male and Female verse:
Take us foxes,
the little foxes
that destroy the vineyards,
for our vineyard is in blossom.

Female:
My beloved is mine and I am his,
the shepherd among the lilies (x2).

Female bridge:
[Wait] until the [heat of] the day has blown away,
and the shadows have fled,
[then] turn and make like a deer,
or like a buck of the gazelles
upon the mountains of separation.

Libavtini (You Capture My Heart)

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Lyrics from Chapter IV of the biblical text.

Verse 1:
With me, from Lebanon, my bride.
With me, from Lebanon.
Come and look out from the peak of Amana,
from the peak of Senir and Hermon,
from the dens of lions,
from the mountains of leopards.

Chorus:
You capture my heart, my companion, my bride.
You capture my heart with [a look of just] one of your eyes.
You capture my heart, my companion, my bride.
You capture my heart with a single link in your necklace.

Verse 2:
How beautiful are your caresses, my companion, my bride;
how much better your caresses than wine.
How beautiful are your caresses, my companion, my bride,
and the aroma of your oils [better than] all perfumes.

Chorus

Bridge:
Nectar drips
from your lips, my bride.
Honey and milk
are under your tongue.
Nectar drips from your lips, my bride.
And the aroma of your garments
is like the aroma of Lebanon.

Chorus

Gan Na'ul (A Locked Garden)

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Lyrics from the end of Chapter IV and opening of Chapter V of the biblical text

Chorus:
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.

Verse 1:
Your branches are a grove of pomegranates
heavy with delightful fruit.
Your branches are a grove of pomegranates
henna and spikenard

Chorus:
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.

Verse 2:
Spikenard and saffron, cane and cinnamon,
with all the trees of frankenscence.
myrrh and aloes
with all the finest of the perfume spices.

Chorus:
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.

Verse 3:
A fountain of the gardens
a well of living waters
living waters that run down
from Lebanon.

Chorus:
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.
A locked garden is my companion, my bride.
A locked well; a sealed spring.

Female counterpoint:
Awake north wind
and come south wind.
Blow through my garden
and let flow its perfumes.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat of the fruit of his delights.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat of the fruit of his delights.

[this is where the drums take over and various instrumental solos]

Chorus 2 (female lead):
Awake north wind
and come south wind.
Blow through my garden
and let flow its perfumes.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat of the fruit of his delights.
Let my beloved come into his garden
and eat of the fruit of his delights.

Male counterpoint:
I have come into my garden
my companion, my bride.
I have gathered my myrrh
with my perfume spices
I have eaten my honey with my comb
I have drunk my wine with my milk
Feast, companions. Drink until you become drunk, lovers

Hasevi Eynayikh (Hide Your Eyes)

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Lyrics from Chapter VI of the biblical text

Chorus 1:
Beautiful are you, my bride, as Tirzah
Comely as Jerusalem, terrifying as the bannered hosts
Hide your eyes away from me
For they dazzle me

Verse 1:
Your hair is like a flock of goats
Flowing down from Mount Gilead
Your teeth like a flock of lambs
come up from washing
Every one matched and none bereaved
Like a slice of pomegranate is your cheek
against your veil

Chorus 1:
Beautiful are you, my bride, as Tirzah
Comely as Jerusalem, terrifying as the bannered hosts
Hide your eyes away from me
For they dazzle me

Verse 2:
Sixty are the queens and eighty are the concubines
and maidens unnumbered
One alone, she is my dove, my perfect one.
The only one of her mother's; the delight she is of she who bore her.

Bridge:
They saw her, the daughters, and acclaimed her.
Queens and concubines praised her.
They saw her, the daughters, and acclaimed her.
Queens and concubines praised her.

Verse 3:
Who is this, revealed like the dawn?
Beautiful as the white moon, delightful as the sun.
Who is this, revealed like the dawn?
Terrifying as the bannered hosts.

Chorus 2:
To the walnut grove, I went down
to see among the banks of the riverbed
to see if the the vine had blossomed
and if the pomegranates had budded.

I did not know
that my soul had placed me
among the chariots
of a mighty people
I did not know
that my soul had placed me
among the chariots
of a mighty people

Chorus 1:
Beautiful are you, my bride, as Tirzah
Comely as Jerusalem, terrifying as the bannered hosts
Hide your eyes from me
For they dazzle me

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