“Scarafaggio” is the Italian word for “Scarab,” a type of beetle traditionally revered by the ancient Egyptians, thought to represent the sun god, Ra. Just as the sun god would roll the sun across the sky each day, the scarab beetle would roll balls of dung over the earth. As the sun set each night but was reborn each day, scarab beetles seemed to be naturally born from the earth and thus capable of eternal life. Many species of scarab beetles have metallic, multicolored wings, also attributed to the sun god.

 

I was inspired by the image of the scarab beetle when writing this piece because the timbres of the instruments had contrasting light and dark characters. The low instruments (electric bass, cello, bass clarinet, drums) suggested the beetle’s earthly nature, while the brighter instruments (electric guitar, piano, cymbals, vibes) called to mind the beetle’s bright aura.

 

“Scarafaggio” was the winner of the 2009 Ossia International Composition Prize.

Scarafaggio - score and parts

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