This Rough Magic – Prospero & the marimba
Last weekend Rose Ginsberg (director), Ian Rosenbaum (acting marimba), Victoria Nece (visual effects, including the image for this post that you see on the homepage) and I made this video. Rose and I had been meaning to rehearse and film this piece for a while, and we finally made it happen as part of issue 2 of twenty-four magazine. By the way, the second issue is staggeringly beautiful and you should go buy many, many copies of it.
Rose and I went to Ian’s house to work on this piece, which I first wrote as part of 24hc back at Peabody, which is a series of concerts I used to run, featuring music written, rehearsed, and performed in a twenty four hour period. All this time-restricted art seemed good together.
The piece is a setting of Prospero’s “This Rough Magic” monologue from the Tempest, when he decides to abandon his magic and his power, and to return to his mundane life. The marimba music shows us what Prospero is thinking and feeling, and the marimba itself becomes a metaphor for the magic Prospero is giving up. Rose, Ian, and Victoria all did a beautiful job in a very, very short time.
If you want to read more about our process, you should totally buy a copy of issue two, and read the 1700 words I wrote about the rehearsal process. I promise it’s interesting, especially if you like rhythmic theory and the relationship between words and music.
Here’s the full text of Prospero’s speech, in case you want to have it handy:
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.