3 Political Songs

This is a new piece for SATB vocal quartet. The texts comprise original quotes from David Hume (and one from John McGrath), around which I have written some colloquial commentary.

There are lots of ways of writing political music: through including the sound of protest, attempting to deal with particular social issues through choices of text and theatrical action, or generally providing an obstreperous musical surface. Not to mention the non-overt political music that sees working against commodified forms as a political action in itself.

Here, I was trying to make these songs an unexpected juncture of politics and music. The first is almost a hymn to political exhaustion and a warning that there are few shining solutions to the problems in our society. The last has a rather upbeat, infectious repeated figure that sets ‘Lads, let’s pay more tax’. Irreverent, yes, but by no means insincere.


Collage texts using quotes from David Hume and one from John McGrath.

  1. Politics
    Politics will always disappoint eventually (but you’ve got to keep doing it).
    ‘The corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst.’
    Oh shit!
  2. Empathy
    Please stop killing everything.
    ‘it is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger.’
    ‘This avidity alone, of acquiring goods and possessions for ourselves and our nearest friends, is insatiable, perpetual, universal, and directly destructive of society.’
    We’re all fff…
  3. Inheritance
    You did not earn your inheritance (even if your dad/mum was a…)
    ‘The people must own the land’
    Lads, let’s pay more tax.
    ‘It is a just political maxim that every man [sic] must be supposed a knave’

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Published by N.T. Smith

Composer + Researcher

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