Tapum! – Little Oratorio for Orchestra

The piece is based on the Italian folk song Tapum!: the original song was written during the First World War by the Italian soldier Ardito Nino Piccinelli from Chiari. The title resembles the sound of the rifle Mennlicher M95, used by Austrian marksmen. First was heard the sound of the arrival of the bullet, TA, and later  the sound of the detonation, PUM. According to Ardito’s letters, he and his compatriots in the trenches sang this song just before going out for an attack. My piece is in three parts, attempting to paint an emotional action.

The piece  was written during a composition project at the Royal Academy of Music, London, in collaboration with the amateur orchestra CoMA (Contemporary Music for All). Basically it is written in an Open Score format.

première: 19 April 2016 David Josefowitz Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London, UK

[0’0″ In the trenches, 2’43” Attack!, 4’49” Desolation]


instrumentation: amateur adult orchestra

duration: c. 8’

performed by CoMA

Conductor: Gregory Rose

Other information

1) In the trenches

As if one soldier starts whistling the well known tune and then the others join in, in the different voice ranges, spreading the melody along the trenches until it merges in disquieting confusion with the normal chatting of the soldiers. At the end the powerful brass riffs, military-style, call the attention of the gathering soldiers and spur them to come out of the trenches and attack the enemy.

2) Attack!

This is war, and the tune leads and moves the soldiers, possessing their spirit until they become puppets.

3) Desolation

The war has moved elsewhere. Just echoes on the battlefield. The living walk through the corpses, calling for the dead. The tune changes to an inconsolable lament, an unresolved carillon-like lullaby.