Simon & Garfunkel & the Prophets of Rage

1993 listen

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 illuminates 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 commissioned by Continuum Contemporary Music, with the assistance of The Ontario Arts Council.


James Rolfe CA

Toronto composer James Rolfe has been commissioned and performed by soloists, ensembles, orchestras, choirs, theatres and opera companies in Canada and abroad. He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the K. M. Hunter Music Award, and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. The Canadian Opera Company, Queen of Puddings Music Theatre Company, Tapestry New Opera, and Toronto Masque Theatre have commissioned and produced his operas. Current projects include a work for Coleman Lemieux Dance with choreographer James Kudelka and writer Alex Poch-Goldin, and a new operatic version of Gogol's The Overcoat for Tapestry Opera and Vancouver Opera with writer Morris Panych.

For more information about James Rolfe, click here.

James Rolfe