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Cataracts

A song for soprano and piano by Joe Bates


Performance Directions
Diamond noteheads indicate that the pianist should whistle. If the pianist
isn't able to whistle, they can hum instead. If necessary, the pitch may be
quietly played on the piano too.

Notes
The duration of the piece is c. 4'.

It is available in alternative keys.

Text
This piece explores the dual meaing of the word "cataract." In its best-known useage, it denotes
a medical condition whereby the lens of the eye becomes clouded, obscuring vision. This word
derives from a lesser-known meaning, in which it denotes a waterfall. The medical condition's
name is a metaphorical allusion to the way in which disturbance clouds water.

This text recontextualises excerpts discussing cataracts from Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson,
Whitman and Shakespeare.

“The sounding cataract


Haunted me like a passion" Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey
A clouded retina
“Still fled, like foam

Down the steep cataract” Shelley, Alastor


Of unsighted descendants
“Of a wintry river’s” Shelley, Alastor
Foaming lenses.

The ocular blossom


“Leaps in glory” Tennyson, The Princess
“Falling like a veil
over my countenance.”

“Under Niagara” Whitman, Song of Myself


“cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Shakespeare, King Lear
Till [they] have drench'd our” vision
“Drown’d” us out.

Joe Bates, 2019

F major version, 3rd November 2020


Cataracts
Joe Bates

    

 = 56


Soprano

       
  
whistle

  
    
    
          
Piano

  

  
 sempre

 


  
5

       
        
            
  
         
     
   
         
        
 
  
 


   


      
 
9

    
    
             
The sound - ing cat - a - ract

 
      
 

  
     

        
   
        
 
 
4 Cataracts

  
      
  


       
14


   
   
haunt - ed me like a pass - ion A cloud - ing re - ti - na

         
         
     
   
      
     
   
           
    
 
 

  
       


   
18

    
still fled, like foam.

        
   
  
  
  
     
                           

            



   


        
      
 
22

   
 

                
Down the steep cat - a - ract of


       
      
 
     
   
        
               
     
                     
        
Cataracts 5


 
     
          
25


un - sight - ed de - scen - dents of a win - try riv - er’s

   
           
                  
      
  


  
   
              
               
    
  


     

   
  
29


foa - ming len - ses.


  
             
     
                  
    

   
           
     
 


          
             
      
33

 


The o - cu - lar blo - - - - ssom, Leaps

    
           
         
  
  

 
 
    


6 Cataracts

  
  
                     
  
37


  
port.

     
 
in glor - - - y, in glor - y.

        
     
     
 
     
whistle


  

   
  
                
        
40


    
Fall - ing like a veil o - -

       
                 
     
            
 

           
  


     
      
  


 
      

 


 
   
        
           
44

      
        
- ver my count - e - nance. Un - - - der Ni - a - ga - ra.

 

                 
      
   
   whistle
  
   
   
    
   
         
    
    

 

 
   

 
Cataracts 7


    
         
norm.

      
47


mezzo voce

     
    
cat - a - racts and hurr - i - ca - noes spout


                   
            

              
    
          
              
    
   


 
  
        
50 mezzo voce

  
   
   
till they have drench’d our vis - ion.

  
    
                  
      

              

           


      



 
 



       
      
53 sotto voce

 


drown’d us out

       
    


    

             
     
         
       