David Thorner (Baritone), Kit Powell (Speaker)

First planned as “Nelson Duos”, ie., as a sequel to the Nelson Songs, but this time with an additional spoken part. Nelson Wattie, however, moved back to NZ before the work was finished. The tape was realized at home on our GMX, largely with sampled sounds. The first performance was in Rigiblick, Zürich, with David Thorner (baritone) and myself (speaker). Later we performed it again in Lucerne at the Tonkünstlerverein conference. First performed in NZ for Radio NZ by Nelson Wattie and Barry Empson.

Most of the texts were written while Michael Harlow was on holiday with us in Eglisau (during his period as Katherine Mansfield Scholar in Menton, South of France) – he was fascinated by my books for teaching English and started writing what he called “easy grammar poems”. At this stage we didn’t discuss their setting at all, thus the scenario is from me: Two stereotype figures, one with power (the speaker: in black clothes and black mask) and the other under his charge (the singer: in white). During the course of the work the roles change – white learns to use black’s power, black loses control.

Father’s Telescope

1. Nein, nein. Ja, ja
1 not wonder 4 not fortune 8 not hate nor even 9 not nein but ja, ja ja . . ja . . . ja jaja
Michael Harlow

Father’s Telescope (Song 1) - Nelson Wattie (Baritone), Barry Empson (Speaker)
 
2. Father's Telescope

If you look
through this telescope
what can you see?

You can see
a man and a dog
you can see
what they are
doing, now

The man is
picking up the stick
in his left hand

And the dog?

The dog is
waiting at the edge
of the sea

Now, the man
is throwing the stick
with his right hand

He is throwing the stick
far out into
the water

And the dog?

Now the dog
is paddling across

the lake

to the other side.

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<div class="auth">Michael Harlow</div>

Father’s Telescope (Song 2) - Nelson Wattie (Baritone), Barry Empson (Speaker)
3. Easy Grammar Poem for Where
Where are the twins? They’re on the wall Where are the pictures? They’re at the gate And where are the sweets? They’re near the house And where are the trucks? They’re in the jar And where is the jar? Beside the twins And where are the twins? Inside their shoes And where are the shoes? The shoes . . ? Ah, yes, The shoes are under the chair.
Michael Harlow
 
Father’s Telescope (Song 3) - Nelson Wattie (Baritone), Barry Empson (Speaker)
4. Don't be silly
Don’t be silly, or even sad, & what do you want, anyway what’s the matter or even going on out there under the stairs, everyone is lining up to sign their names, then disappearing to a fine round of applause Did you say you wanted to leave the room? Well, there’s the bell, and that’s all, for today
Michael Harlow
 
5. Tomorrow & Tomorrow Morning
Tomorrow, tomorrow morning & tomorrow afternoon, even evening, that is to say all day tomorrow I’m going to look through this telescope to see what’s happening Well, there isn’t much my love, & there are no oranges floating around out there, hardly even a cow jumping over hardly a moon but if you look closely, there are, yes, so many stars swimming back
Michael Harlow
 
6. No I Don't, Yes I Do
Well, we won’t chase what couldn’t be caught, will we? I mean, if you really want to know why everyone is just beginning to levitate three trees high. why don’t you open & shut your books why don’t you just try on this fine body for size?
Michael Harlow
 
7. Why Don't You
Why don’t you wake up, turn round and get into line? Why don’t you put up your hands to see what’s happening right now? Why don’t you just put on the world’s hat the one with the snap brim, to see what’s happening inside the world’s head why don’t you do that before you die?
Michael Harlow
 
8. Are you the Milkman?
Are you the milkman? No, I’m not Or the Milkman’s wife Perhaps? No, I’m afraid not Are you someone, then I might know well If I knew by chance Your name? Not one of those, no Would you step Inside, that’s fine And would you just Arrest this cow She’s been trying To jump over the moon For years (now)
Michael Harlow

Are You the Milkman? (Song 8) - Nelson Wattie (Baritone), Barry Empson (Speaker)

Father’s Telescope, für Bass, Sprecher und Tonband, geht von … einer eindeutig definierten Zweierbeziehung aus: dem Lehrer-Schüler-Verhältnis.
Eine reiche und abgründige Computermusik greift aus dem Hintergrund ein. Die Schrecken der Unterrichtsstunde von Ionesco sind gegenwärtig. Dann aber gelingt es der Vitalität des Schülers (David Thorner) die starre hierarchische Ordnung (vertreten durch Kit Powell als Sprecher) aufzulösen.
— Jürg Schubiger

Father’s Telescope, for Bass, Speaker and Tape, assumes … an unambiguously defined dual relationship: that of teacher-pupil.
A rich and depressing computer music attacks from the background. The horrors of Ionesco’s The Lesson are ever present. However the vitality of the pupil (David Thorner) succeeds in breaking through the rigid hierarchical order (represented by Kit Powell as the speaker).
- trans. KP