Dumuzid’s Tears – Improvisation, Introduction to contemporary techniques and Ensemble piece inspired by Sumerian Shepherd
The idea for Dumuzid’s Tears first arose when looking for the earliest reference to the connection between the recorder (flute) and shepherds. The earliest surviving texts in the world were written by the Ancient Sumerians. Among their deities was Dumuzid the God of shepherds who is also presented with a flute in Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld, making him the earliest flute-playing shepherd that we know of in literature. The composition was inspired by a collection of lamentations for Dumuzid entitled In the Desert by the Early Grass. Related to it there is a hymn called “Lament of the flutes for Damu”, which was sung to the accompaniment of flutes every year as part of the ritual mourning of the dead Dumuzid. My composition consists of fragments of lamenting melodies that paint an aural picture of this mourning.
Pedagogical Aspects and Improvisation
The piece was first conceived for a summer course, to introduce amateur musicians to contemporary techniques (such as speaking text, staging, singing in the recorder, multiphonics, alternate articulations, flattement, air sounds, trumpet playing on the lower body, etc.) and improvisation. In terms of improvisation, the players are asked to improvise with ideas suggested in the piece and to think about the form of the piece through improvisation. A great way to introduce students to the world of contemporary music, improvisation and another way of approaching ensemble playing whilst still dealing with nice melodies and a beautiful story.
Find out more about my pedagogical ideas here: