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      Gregory W. Brown's Commentary

Listening to Darwin

You are listening to a brief excerpt of "Kyrie" from Missa Charles Darwin (a music composition) by Greg Brown.
Lyrics from Charles Darwin and the Latin Mass, compiled and edited by Craig Phillips


 Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
                                             --Introduction to The Descent of Man (1871) 

Compressed 90-second excerpt of Greg Brown's
music composition "Kyrie" from Missa Charles Darwin:


    Gregory W. Brown (w/ New York Polyphony performing)
    Pelham, MA, USA

    The work was composed 2010/11, performed/recorded 2012.

This excerpt from the six-movement Missa Charles Darwin depicts one of Darwin's finches through the solmization of nucleobases found in a portion of its DNA. The melody derived by assigning the letters A, G, T, and C to pitches serves as the launching point for a musical setting of one of Darwin's texts on natural selection placed alongside the opening of the Latin mass (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy). The juxtaposition of the two themes — one the supplication for mercy, the other the foundation for something that is not inherently merciful — provides the underlying drama for the selection.

Please note: in the spirit of the exhibit, consider the Platyspiza crassirostris (vegetarian finch) a "depicted" species.
For an explanation, see Greg Brown's TEDxWoodsHole presentation (6 minutes in)

Link to a three-minute video

For full quality audio/video please see:

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