In most North American Indian cultures, one is taught to provide and make a good way for our children’s, children’s, children’s children. In other words, we are asked to think ahead for seven generations. The Kaniènkéhaka (Mohawk) word for our future generations is Tahatikonsonhtontie, pronounced Dah, Ha, DEE, Goo/ Soo, DOON Deeyay and is translated into English as The Coming of Faces. This work commissioned by Sound Impact is scored for String Quartet and Flute or Trumpet.
Part 1 – Enska (1 in Mohawk) is a lullaby of sorts that incorporates harmonics and alternate fingerings/sounds in the trumpet or flute. An original melody written in the style of a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois, a confederacy of which the Mohawk are part) women’s song is developed throughout the work. The introduction to Part 2 – Tékeni (2 in Mohawk) employs rattle sounds. Instrumentalists are given the option of “imitating” the rattle by playing col legno, battuto which is the bouncing of he wood side of the bow to specific rhythms, or to play shaker eggs reminiscent of Indigenous rattles, and in some cases to use an actual Haudenosaunee bone rattle. The viola player “stomps” with jingles around her ankle, reminiscent of the bells used by many Indigenous dancers while the cellist is asked to continue sounds of the rattle through bouncing the wood of the bow on their two lower open strings. The flute player sometimes plays key clicks to imitate the rattle as it strikes one's hand. Written in an ABA form, the A section’s driving accompaniment, Haudenosaunee women’s song heard in its entirety, and counterpoint stress the urgency of caring for our future generations. The flute player is asked to play alternate sounds on repetitive pitches and flutter tongue. The middle B section reminds us of the perseverance of young children who can find ways to play in any situation. The work ends with a coda that is part of the conventional ending heard in Haudenosaunee women’s songs. Some of the performers are asked to sing and play the phrase Kainawiya hey ya (pronounced GUY-, Nah, We, Yah, HEY, Ya).
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