from the CD The Voice Theatre of Daryl Runswick
I wrote I Sing The Body Electric in 1984 and it was my first major public success as a 'serious' composer. I'd written good pieces before, of course (The Phoenix And The Turtle, Dreamtime, Variations For String Orchestra, Sonatina, Fantasy iii, Cool>Warm>Hot...) but – as the actor Tom Wilkinson says – you can be good in as many things as you like that don't get noticed: you're only seen as good if you're good in a hit. I Sing The Body Electric was performed dozens of times worldwide by Electric Phoenix and is the piece that established me as a composer.
Electric Phoenix on this recording are Judith Rees, soprano, Linda Hirst, mezzo, Daryl Runswick, tenor, Terry Edwards, bass, and John Whiting, sound projection.
Movement 1 is a scherzo which develops along sinister lines. It describes a
superficially happy relationship which contains the seeds of its own destruction.
Initially the singers (using nonsense syllables) set up accompaniment patterns
against which individuals improvise snatches of melody, loving and intimate. Soon however fear and mistrust break in and the opening euphoria is irretrievably lost.
Movement 2 is a mystical account of spiritual experiences. The
music is improvised throughout. The drone is produced by doing overtone singing through a ring-modulator linked to a chorus/echo.
Movement 3 is an enormous twelve-voice canon whose entries are 50 seconds apart. The texts treat of creativity, joy and selflessness. The music moves from a modernistic opening, through an 'additive' section where the syllables appear disjointedly, the sense discernable only after all three canonic entries have taken place, to a celebratory melodic climax, and then evaporated in arpeggios and goodwill. A coda momentarily reminds us of the uncertainties of Movement 1, but its destructive power is gone and
I Sing The Body Electric ends with an act of faith in the greater power of trust and receptivity and delight.
Produced by Daryl Runswick.
Recorded by John Whiting on analogue tape at October Sound, London, 1985.
Digitally remastered by John Whiting, April 1994.
Mixed by Daryl Runswick at The DReam Room, April/May 1994.
These recordings are covered by copyright