Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsense poem, Jabberwocky is considered a classic in English literature. John Willmarth’s musical setting of this same poem titled Beware the Jabberwock, is an exciting and accessible treatment of the original, which brings Carroll’s best known work to the world of percussion.
The poem tells the tale of an epic battle between a boy and the vicious creature know as the Jabberwock, with the boy being triumphant in the end. To tell this tale and to match Carroll’s innovative use of nonsense words like “chortled” and “galumphing,” Willmarth uses an assortment of quirky percussion accessories as well as dissonant harmonies. These compositional techniques help provide the perfect sonic underpinning for Carroll’s poem. The original poem is provided in the score as well as cues for the beginnings of each stanza so that if desired, the poem can be narrated along with the performance of the piece.