Simon & Garfunkel & The Prophets Of Rage

This is a hostile merger between two songs: a sweet, pretty Simon & Garfunkel ballad, and an angry, in-your-face Public Enemy rap number. All players share the strong, choked, bitten-off notes reminiscent of the samples used in rap; their slowing-down structure is transparent. Simultaneously, the piano plays a simple, wistful tune filtered randomly from 159 slightly different nine-note chords derived from the bass line of the ballad.

The piece is an allergic reaction to the drugs peddled by Simon & Garfunkel and other pop balladeers, which were happily swallowed whole by the composer at an impressionable age (29). The anger of Public Enemy helps to illuminate the individual’s fear, loneliness, isolation and powerlessness inherent in our competitive, capitalist society, which the hazy amnesia of sweet, seductive, corporately- produced-and-distributed ballads tries not to cure, but to obscure.

Simon & Garfunkel & The Prophets of Rage was premiered in Toronto on 18 May 1993 by Continuum Contemporary Music, with Barbara Hannigan, soprano, Barbara Pritchard, piano, and Trevor Tureski, percussion.