For The Tulip Beds: A Toneme Suite, compositional procedures were overdetermined by multiple operations converging at once. Initially, I was moved by a photo image of the extinct filter-feeder Siphusauctum Gregarium, which appeared to show a three-line "stave.” I then proceeded to conduct a reading-through of a scientific article on the filter-feeder, an English translation of Johannes Kepler's Harmonices Mundi (1619), briefly phonography (Isaac Pitman shorthand), and some of Aristoxenus's Elementa Harmonica. I freely broke these “rules,” or did homophonic translations of the previous poem. Some of the tonemes were unpredictably polysemous, while for others I tried to determine their meaning, often in relation to the image. The Tulip Beds is an attempt to rethink the poetry of the Scientific Revolution in a contemporary harmonic arrangement.
A.J. Carruthers is a poet and scholar writing in the area of modern and contemporary American and Canadian Poetry, with a focus on musical discourse, notational form and the relations between poetry and philosophy. Some of his work has been published in Southerly, Mascara, Rabbit and the recent Anthology of Asian-Australian Poets (Puncher and Wattmann). He is based in Sydney.