Kameny – excerpt 3


Piece for 24 singers and 16 instruments based on a poem by Sjón:

an attempt to resuscitate du’a khalil aswad

tilraun til endurlífgunar dúu khalil aswad


4 Soprano,

4 Mezzo-soprano

4 Alto

4 Tenor

4 Baritone

4 Bass

Instruments :

2 flutes (1st also piccolo and alto flute, 2nd also piccolo and bass flute)

2 clarinets (1st also bass clarinet and Eb clarinet, 2nd also contrabass clarinet)

2 horns (both mutes bouché, mutes wa-wa of trombone)

2 C trumpets (both mutes cup, practice mutes and mutes wa-wa, optionally piccolo trumpets)

2 tenor/bass trombones (both mutes cup, practice mutes and mutes wa-wa)

2 percussions (see the list below)

1 Harp

2 violoncellos

1 Contrabass

Each musician disposes 2 pebbles

The piece is a kind of ritual.

A special position of the choir and other musicians is required (see the schema bellow).

The instrument players also whisper and make some other noises without instruments.

The conductor has also a visual role in the piece. He disposes a black textile back filled with 24 pebbles that he distributes to the singers in the beginning of the piece (measures 1-21, Trajectory 1). He also makes noises with his own two pebbles and with his mouth (no singing or speaking is required). The conductor goes at the end of the piece to the musicians and collects their pebbles into his bag (measures 713-728, Trajectory 2).

Accessory for the choir singers:


Each singer plays with two pebbles (round stones, around 8cm each)

6 singers (S1, MS1, A1, T1, Bar1, B1) play also 1 siren whistle with bell each,

the same 6 singers have 1 hard stick each

6 singers (S3, MS3, A3, T3, Bar3, B3) play 1 tom-tom, (covered by a white and later by a black textile)

The same 6 singers have one soft mallet each

12 singers (S2, S4, MS2, MS4, A2, A4, T2, T4, Bar2, Bar4, Bas2, Bas4) have 1 boom-whackers (tuned flexible plastic tube) each

The style of singing is very related to the diction and to the rhythm of the text. The diction should be very pronounced British English (even with some exaggeration of the pronunciation), the type of voice and rhythm are both directly related to the diction and should be very natural, close to the spoken voice, sometimes jazzy, groovy, swingy, …


an attempt to resuscitate du’a khalil aswad

Translation David McDuff, Sjón

(italic = additional words in German and Czech)

stein , steinchen


menschliche hand

the human hand looks like an outstretched wing

whether it is throwing

a heap of small stones

or a fist-sized rock

the pebbles

skim across the water –

pause for a moment

in their flight before they fall

the big stone knows no rest until it

lands on the body of a seventeen-year-old girl in love


(one is a recent newspaper story

the other the memory of a summer’s night)


the mind will not let go

of either memories or news stories

it never looks like an outstretched wing


to the god of the brothers of the stoned one

I offer this poem in exchange for her life


tilraun til endurlífgunar dúu khalil aswad

(original in Icelandic)

mannshöndin líkist þöndum væng

hvort sem hún sleppir

lófafylli af smásteinum

eða hnefastóru grjóti


þjóta yfir vatnið –

gera andartaks hlé

á flugi sínu áður en þær falla

hnullungurinn ann sér ekki hvíldar fyrr en hann

hafnar í líkama ástfanginnar sautján ára stúlku

(annað er nýleg smáfrétt

hitt minning um sumarnótt)


hugurinn sleppir ekki takinu

hvorki af minningabrotum né fréttum

hann líkist aldrei þöndum væng


guði trúbræðra hinnar grýttu

býð ég þetta ljóð í skiptum fyrir líf hennar

Kameny – excerpt 3