A crab, yesterday

Chaconne Canon Cancrizans (2007)

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

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.


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


7 minutes


soprano saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba


Also available: set of parts — please contact me if you require these


Performed by The Trillium Quartet