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St. Francis's Sermon to the Fish

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I was reading a history of Germany when I came across mention of a painting by the Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Bocklin (1827-1901), who painted in a style not unlike modern fantasy art such as that by Frank Frazetta (think of a painting on the side of a '70s van). The name of the painting mentioned was St. Francis's Sermon to the Fish. Unfortunately, I've been unable to locate a photo of it on the 'Net, so I tried to depict it in music.

Sweet St. Francis preaching to the fish! Whatever did he say to them? I read biographies of St. Francis at several web sites, and one remarked, "The fish were said to be very attentive." I was pleased by the concept, because my old girlfriend and I used to go up to the lake where we'd swim out to an island with a jar of peanut butter, which we'd spread on our toes and have bluegills come nibble at them. Call me Fishmeal.

The sheet music for this piece is available for a nominal fee at
my page at SibeliusMusic where you can also watch the music go by as the tune plays.
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Uploaded: Aug 31, 2005 - 09:16:18 AM
Last Updated: Jul 15, 2006 - 10:27:55 PM Last Played: Aug 02, 2019 - 05:42:55 AM
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drakonis said 5164 days ago (August 31st, 2005)
Call me gillible
Ouch... fishmeal... sheesh... as bad as some of my
wordplay! So this was Frazetta's teacher? :-)

I listened attentively to your composition, mouth agape.
Very nice orchestral composition. Original, fairly
evocative of your subject. My only critiques are that some
of the instruments need some tweaking to sound less
MIDI-esque, specifically the oboe and bassoon... For the
oboe, maybe some more note-by-note variation in attack
and volume to sound more realistic, it is too even. And
the bassoon has a very electronic sound, and doesn't
sound like a bassoon at all, more like a plain traingle-
wave synth. I assume that's a result of Sibelius's choice of
instruments. The strings sounded so-so. Many of the
other instruments (especially the harp) sound quite good.
Your writing for each instrument struck me as very good,
spatial separation was nice. And although this was more
lyrical and impressionistic than the kind of classical music
I prefer, I enjoyed it and was definitely impressed by your
composition abilities, very well done!
Check out my latest song called Miwok
Tom Atwood said 5163 days ago (September 1st, 2005)
I would like to have heard that sermon, too. This piece has
a very uplifting, aquatic feel. There is also a lovely
precision to the middle section, sounds like the inner
workings of a clock repair shop. Perhaps St. Francis had a
part-time job. No, wait, he walked around naked,
begging. Terribly disappointed his father. But, oh, that
prayer attributed to him! Worth repeating here:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Hard to beat that for praying.

Keith, this is a well-conceived and orchestrated piece. As
Drakonis said, some of the instruments sound synthetic,
but then again, they are. I struggle with this same
dilemma. Maybe someday our pieces will be played by real
flesh-and-blood musicians?

The fish are applauding!

Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
DuoAzzoni said 5153 days ago (September 11th, 2005)
Not even start criticizing the final result of the midi rendering of this piece...making it sound perfect would be impossible...and would require an enormous amount of work.

Restraining to the written music, I like very much the themes and orchestral variations under the form of different orchestrations of them.

I love the bass clarinet-piccolo variation of the descending (and then ascending) little theme-phrase. These details, along with the instrumentation and the use of some precious altered chords give the piece a vague late-romantic atmosphere (Grieg, or even Sibelius :)), even if it's impossible not to recognize it as written by a modern composer.

Only bad notes in my opinion are the old graveyard bell strokes...too cheap an affect, aren't they? :) and I don't like the short esatonal episode, I thing it's off-style and not necessary.

Overall, be it a descriptive piece or a symphonic movement, I think it's good.
Check out my latest song called Forse un Mattino
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