The extreme smallness of insects (Maggie Furtak)

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  • (Posted 2017-05-26)   CPDL #44701:       
Editor: Maggie Furtak (submitted 2017-05-26).   Score information: Letter, 7 pages, 1.68 MB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes:

General Information

Title: The extreme smallness of insects
Composer: Maggie Furtak
Lyricist: Pliny the Elder

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularMadrigal

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 2017

Description: This text is from the chapter in Pliny the Elder's "Natural History," (Libros Naturalis Historiae) on the smallness of insects, in which he wonders at the ability of nature to not only glue the wings onto gnats without making a sticky mess of the job, but also to provide those wings with nerves and a circulatory system, and to somehow fit a startlingly loud voice into the package as well.

I've included a piano reduction for rehearsal. Please note the two tenor notes in parentheses at measure 30, which may be employed in addition to, or instead of the 1st tenor notes, if your second tenors require them, or if you have only second tenors and attempting to sing an A will cause tuning problems. Enjoy, and please feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

sed turrigeros elephantiorum miramur umeros taurorumque colla et truces in sublime iactus,
tigrium rapinas, leonum iubas, cum rerum natura nusquam magis quam in minimis tota sit.
…cum in contemplatione naturae nihil possit videri supervacuum.

English.png English translation

We marvel at the shoulders of elephants carrying turrets, and bulls tossing aside whatever stands in their way with their strong necks,
at the ravening of tigers, at lions' manes, but Nature is nowhere greater than in her smallest works.
…in the study of the natural world, nothing is superfluous.