Project: A Ghazal

Örjan Sandred


Voice and electronics

A song about alienation.

In "A Ghazal" for soprano and live electronics I am setting the Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding's poem from 1891 with the same title to music 

Fröding’s life was characterized largely by his mental illness and alcoholism. His poem “A Ghazal” was written during a period when he was admitted to Suttestad institution in Lillehammer, Norway. The poem paints an idyllic landscape full of life and joy, as seen from the eyes of someone who is unable to participate.


In my musical setting of the poem, I wanted to highlight how the mind of a viewer colors impressions of the images that are described - how the unattainable idyll becomes more idyllic in the eyes of the viewer, and how the laughter and the joy enhances the feeling of alienation.


The word-painting is based largely on the electronic sounds. The idea has been to expand the vocal part with text and voice sounds, and to supplement these with sounds derived from a piano. The sung part is broken down to short whispered fragments, intensifying the feeling of inadequacy.


The poem builds an almost desperate feeling of wanting to be involved, where the viewer is not able to break out of the isolation.


The composition was commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts for soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch, and Fröding’s poem is used in an English translation by Judith Moffett. The short extract from the 17-minute composition in the video to the right features soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch.

Photo credits: Leif Norman

The short extract from the 17-minute composition in the video features soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch.

"I want - I want - I will - I must get out

And drink of life, if for a single bout -

Not slowly suffocate behind the bars."

from G.Fröding's "A Ghazal"

Mimétisme was commissioned with the financial support from