Insect Songs (1998)

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

duration: 11 minutes

Faber Music publishing details

Audio Recording

Recording of the second movement, “Cicadas at Night” by Jenny Duck-Chong (mezzo), Vladimir Gorbach (guitar)

Programme Notes

Insects have been a fertile source of inspiration to some Australian composers, in particular Ross Edwards who has used the patterns of insect sounds within his compositions.

The two Insect Songs by Matthew Hindson take as their basis separate poems by Australian poets as their starting points.

The first movement, “Ants in the Shower Recess” (poem by Jamie Grant), takes many cues from the text on which it is based. Ants are described as “tiny, black-skinned warriors” who seem to be indestructible. Indeed, the point of the poem is that ants will be around much longer than the poet (or the composer).

The second song, “Cicadas at Night” (poem by Peter Skryznecki), parallels the life cycle of a cicada, emerging from their seven-year stage as a wriggling, squirming pupae to spend their brief above-ground life singing and reproducing.

Both song-settings utilize aspects of word painting, especially with the guitar writing. The sounds of scurrying ants and incessant cicadas are portrayed throughout the relevant songs. They are dominantly lyrical works, though rhythmically quite challenging for the performers.

Insect Songs were commissioned by Jeannie Marsh and Ken Murray, with financial assistance from the Australia Council.

notes by Matthew Hindson.

Other Information

Australian Music Centre page on this work

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