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Sunday
Sep302012

Man Meets Dog

From a live performance by Chanticleer and the Palo Alto High School Chorus, May, 1991.

Man Meets Dog–
(how it all began)

for two choruses

Duration: 8'
1991

Voices: two SATB choruses

"Man Meets Dog (how it all began)" for two choruses, is dedicated to the memory of Konrad Lorenz. Lorenz shared the qualities of a great scientist and humanist. Through his work on animal behavior in natural settings, on topics such as imprinting and aggression, he helped us understand the forces of nature not only in the animal world, but in the human one as well.

The text of this piece is based on Lorenz' theory of how wild dogs were first domesticated. The piece explores the ancient voices of instinct and the wild, voices that still call out from the depths of consciousness of even the most domesticated dog---and the most civilized man.

To order a score contact Terra Non Firma Press


The text of the piece is as follows:

Man Meets Dog (how it all began)
(by David A. Jaffe)

I.
Sundown.
Dream time.
Fine kill.
Full belly.
Until tomorrow.
Saber-tooth tiger, please do stay away.

II.
grrr, woof.
ah-ooo, ruff.
ow-ow-aooo.
rar-rar-rar-rar-rar.
rarararararararararararararara...

III.
Scram!
Be gone!
Get out'a here!
Leave us alone, until tomorrow, please, in peace!

IV.
And so it was, before it all began.
Then times turned bad.

And now through grass tall in open plains,
come a few scrawny men, some women, children,
with bone-tipped spears.

Like fearful deer, this tiny band,
high-strung, run-down,
driven from home by an enemy stronger.

Banished from the fire where they once slept soundly
secure, peaceful, thanks to a guard,
a protector, of whom they never were aware.

The lowly pack of jackals there, detested,
who followed and pestered them, scavenging refuse
made such a clamor, on approach of danger,
that it sounded a warning from afar.

But now, missing, empty.
Uncanny stillness,
sinister,
foreboding terrors lurking,
silent.

grrr.

woof.

Suddenly, an idea,
an impulse,
from a new leader,
a genius,
a visionary:
("leave some meat on the ground")

The others revolt,
but he threatens them with his spear
until they back off.

"Leave some meat on the ground."

Again he pauses,
leaves meat,
goes on.

"LEAVE SOME MEAT ON THE GROUND!"

And again.

Now, sky already dark,
camp fire burning, wind drops.
Far away:
gnawing bones,snapping jaws,
a cackle.

And, in the light of the fire,
a jackal.

So it all began, and so it would be.

V.
Come here!
grrr.
Don't be afraid!
woof.
For you, forever.
ruff.
From now on, ah-ooo, together, partners, ow-ow-aooo.

Canis!
Lupus!
Homo Sapien!
In alliance!
Until tomorrow.
Jackal, wolf, dingo, chow, husky, dog, woman and man.