Dream in Aqua & Scarlet

Dream in Aqua & Scarlet was commissioned by Alejandro Escuer, virtuoso Mexican flutist, and it appears on his CD entitled Aqua.

Score, Parts and Electronics available from

Voice House Publishing

It came about as result of a trip to my childhood home, after a 30+ year absence, to make good on an pledge made back in the late 1960s. As teenagers my friends and I had vowed that, no matter where we were and who we had become, we would return and meet at the quiet fresh water springs, in the heart of the old arboretum, at dawn on May 1st, 2000 — in the turn of the millennium.

Aesthetically the work belongs to the ancient lineage of the Americas, where since the Neolithic there has been a devotion to exploring the momentary nuances of experiential reality, and the blurring of the border between individual and general, and which has its literary constituent in the so-called “magical realism” of such Latin American authors as Garcia-Marquez.

The opening giant insect is actually a stereo recording of the creek flowing out from the spring, with stereo image reduced to the size of a large flies’ wings, spun around in a circle at 100 time/second, and then “flown” around the sound stage with doppler to complete the transformation.
The idea is that it flies around the room, and finally alights on the nose of the listener, at which time the propellor-wings slow down and expand, suddenly growing into the spring, to be quickly pushed aside by someone’s hand, like a puddle of water on a countertop could be swept aside, and then the piece begins.
I wrote a poem to go with it, which one never hears completely, and which mimics the water (and becomes convolved into the spring eventually). The notes all come from the birds, slowed down one or two octaves.
The flute mimics these, eventually the insects begin to buzz/hum the same melodies, as did the water at one point, but I backed off on that finally. It sounds great in a big space, at healthy volume. In case you are interested I have included the poem.
FYI: the arboretum spring really is in the key of G.

Dream in Aqua and Scarlet

the spring spring spring springtime …
spring waters blubbing so
indistinguishably in twisted
underwater tongues that flow
around the rocks licking crevices
and hollows — gulping in the air
pockets and humming randomly
in the fast shallows — a song in the
key of “G” — but every note is
found here— and every note in
between every note — some are
just better than others, depending
on where you listen — pick them
out — the secret messages — every
language not known to man
uttered on the silver tongue of the
quiet spring

up over my feet up my legs up my
torso over my shoulders and up
my neck — into my ear canals the
silver tongue slips inside and
whispers whispers whispers quiet
sweet nothings — a soothing
commentator — a smooth
politician — whatever it tells me I
believe it — I am convinced — I
will buy it — give you whatever
you ask — welcome into my home
— here — sit down
— flow into my sofa and into my
coffee cup and into my bedroom
and out the back door into my
— speak to my flowers — my
stationary springtime pets
— tell them a morning story and a
moonlight sonata and calm their
fears of growing
— shed tears on their tender feet
that will never walk away, though
they stand there and fight on
bravely — stuck to the earth
— flow over their toes
and massage their tiny soft veins
— make them cool and excited
with the motion of cool flowing and
coat them with flowing secrets
and sweet lies of distant forests
and deep oceans
— lie to them lie to everyone
— tell a beautiful quiet sweet
tremendous fish tale
— pull us into your dream flow —
we are ready to dissolve…

Joseph Waters
June, 2000

© 2000 Joseph Waters
All Rights Reserved