Tim Benjamin

composer, writer, storyteller

Chaconne Canon Cancrizans


Were it in my nature, I would crab up a storm,
but in the time-honoured tradition of my species, I backed off.
After all, when we walk forwards, we move backwards.
It’s in our genes, you know, turning round and round.
That reminds me — I’ve always wondered, “Which came first — the Crab, or the Gene?”
That is to say, “Which came last — the Gene, or the Crab?”
I’m always turning things round and round, you know. It’s in our genes, after all.
When we walk backwards, we move forwards.
Ah me, oh my!
I must lope along my merry way — so off I go on such a fine day.
Sing “ho!” for the life of a Crab!

— from Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter

Sing "ho!" for the life of a Crab!
Sing "ho!" for the life of a Crab!

In Chaconne Canon Cancrizans, commissioned by the ensemble Trillium, I have attempted to compose, simultaneously, the musical forms in the title. This is intended to reflect the spirit of Hofstadter’s poem in particular and his excellent book in general.


7 minutes


Soprano saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba

First performance

11th July 2008, National Portrait Gallery, London, by Trillium


A live recording by Trillium, at the National Portrait Gallery in London

Request a score / parts

If you would like to see a score and/or require a set of parts for this music, please contact me.