To Keep Things Reasonable

To Keep Things Reasonable score by David Young (thumbnail)


Aliquando facilius est illos invenire
iuxta semitas umbrosas et silvas apertas
quam in codicem.

Cum boletos primum expertus sim,
fraga quaerebam.

Fraga autem non aderant—fraga
fera; sed boleti solum.

Mutationes de nomenclatura fortisan periculis occurrant.

Quaerebam fraga.

In scientia boletorum,
boletus quidam nondum editus
non exsistit.

Sometimes it’s easier to find them / near shaded paths and open woods / than in field guides. …

To Keep Things Reasonable is the English title of a poem commissioned by David Young, for a vocal work he composed in 2007 for The Song Company and Ensemble Offspring. To acknowledge The Song Company’s skill in the performance of early music, and to point up the implied reference to mycological taxonomy, the poem was translated into Latin by Neville Chiavaroli, with the title Ad Res Modicas Conservandas. Young set the latin text, scoring the work for mezzo-soprano, tenor, bass, viola and percussion. As with Young’s colourful graphic score, which includes fragments from diagrams and technical photographs of fungi, the poem can be characterised as a playful homage to John Cage’s lifelong fascination with mushrooms, chance and indeterminacy.

To Keep Things Reasonable score by David Young, page 11
To Keep Things Reasonable score by David Young, page 11

Press & Reviews

Its desiccated fabric yielded microscopic gems of sound, recalling early Luciano Berio and Gyorgy Ligeti more than Cage.
The beauty of this delicate work was hearing its subtle techniques pushed right to the edge of silence.

Performance History

19 July: (ABC recording) ABC Classic FM 105.9 radio broadcast in the program New Music Up Late; read more
15 September: Sydney, CarriageWorks, conducted by Roland Peelman, part of CAGE UNCAGED presented by The Song Company and Ensemble Offspring in association with the New Music Network and CarriageWorks

Further Reading

CAGE UNCAGED program, CarriageWorks (2007); read here

Carey, Danielle, ‘Claire Edwardes: Loud, Soft and With Feeling’, RealTime no. 81 (2007) p. 14; read here

Kouvaras, Linda Ioanna, Loading the Silence: Australian Sound Art in the Post-Digital Age (Burlington VT: Ashagte, 2013), pp. 182–83; 229

Lesnie, Melissa, ‘A Compendium of Cage: Whales, Mushrooms and Hymns’ [review of CAGE UNCAGED], Resonate, 29 October 2007; read here

McCallum, Peter, ‘Still Pushing the Boundaries’ [review of CAGE UNCAGED], Sydney Morning Herald, 17 September 2007; read here

Plush, Vincent, ‘Ready for a Touch of Circus’ [review of CAGE UNCAGED], The Australian, 17 September 2007; read here

Turner, Steve Sweeney, and John Cage, ‘John Cage’s Practical Utopias: John Cage in Conversation with Steve Sweeney Turner’, The Musical Times, vol. 131, no. 1771 (1990), pp. 469–72

Young, David, To Keep Things Reasonable, trio for mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass with chamber ensemble, 2007; courtesy of the Australian Music Centre, view a score sample here

To Keep Things Reasonable score by David Young, page 16
To Keep Things Reasonable score by David Young, page 16