Tumble Me Down
6 Duets after Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
for Baritone, Alto, and Piano (2018)
by Ron Hannah


1. To Fortune
2. The Parcæ
3. Charon and Philomel
4. The Curse
5. In Praise of Women
6. On Himself (III)

Duration: about 9 minutes

by Robert Herrick

THREE lovely sisters working were,
   As they were closely set,
Of soft and dainty maidenhair
   A curious armillet.
I, smiling, asked them what they did,
   Fair destinies all three,
Who told me they had drawn a thread
   Of life, and 'twas for me.
They showd me then how fine 'twas spun,
   And I replied thereto,—
"I care not now how soon 'tis done,
   Or cut, if cut by you".

Robert Herrick's poems are often very arresting. They can be clever, vulgar, witty, sentimental, or biting. They are always interesting, and it was difficult to settle on only six of them. But settle I did, and here is a charming set of duets for baritone and alto voices, that I think will be very rewarding and great fun for the performers.

     They range from smiling acceptance of one's social position in #1; to a woman's blasting of an unfaithful lover (#4) and his foolish comeback (#5); to a lovely dialogue between Charon, the boatman of Hades, and a nightingale who is requesting passage (#3); to a bit of self-indulgent boasting (#6). As a teaser, I have created (using Logic Pro X) a sound file of #2, "The Parcæ". These are the Fates, who are weaving a timeline for our protagonists, who nonetheless find them lovely, not fearsome at all. Clicking in the box will allow you to hear this file and download the score for this song (the poem is there too!) Notice the 3-part canon to suggest the 3 Fates themselves. Also notice that the computer cannot reproduce the words - you'll have to fill that part in by yourself. To obtain the full set, please send me an email (below) or visit the Canadian Music Centre. I ask only that if you decide to perform these songs, that you inform me so that I can keep my Performances page up-to-date (few ever do, but I keep asking :)

     These are very expressive songs, in my style of dissonant tonality, and they will require good amateur singers at the least.