Posts By: willcwhite

No Belle and No Nobel Prize

Revels 2010.  In this song, a certain vain Professor Codswollop of the Molecular Biology Department sings about his longing to win the Nobel Prize and get the girl with his mad BioChem skills. His arch-rival professor, Anna Innana of the Environmental Feminism Department overhears him in the bushes and has her retort. My sincere thanks to the lovely Beth Barber for helping out on this video:

Prof: I was just sure when I went into this field that I would quickly rise to the top and soon be flocked by beautiful young admirers. But somehow, it just never worked out that way.

Oh the many hours that I spent pouring o’er my microscope
Oh the prospects dour, and yet, faced with doubt, in spite I’d hoped
That just one final chemical reaction
Would finally lead to my long sought for satisfaction…

I’ve always seemed to have trouble capitalizing on my superior intellect. Why I even remember back in college…

I saw this girl in my class one day
Let me tell ya’ pal — she was quite a gal
I said “Would you like to talk DNA?”
It was a real good line – it worked so very fine.

We met up in the afternoon to study chapter six.
I thought that she was sure to swoon — we’d be the next double helix!

We talked transfection, we talked transduction,
Conjugation, *replication*
I puckered my lips to try some suction and
She said her goodbyes,
So No Belle, and No Nobel Prize.

TA: But certainly the situation must have improved when you got to graduate school?

Prof: Well, not exactly…

There was this girl in my lab with me,
She was quite a dish — she had all you’d wish,
Style and flair and a Ph.D.
I could sense romance – I shot her a glance.

I showed her my experiment, she’d see I was a pro.
I chose deadly bacteriants to see how large they could grow.

She said, “My, isn’t that awfully precarious?”
“Babe, there is not to fear — I’m not some dufus here.”
I gave her a vile and asked, “Could you carry this?”
It splashed right in her eyes,
So No Belle and No Nobel Prize.

TA: But sir, I thought you nearly won the Nobel Prize at one point. What happened?

Prof: Well, let’s see…

There was this broad on the prize committee
Such a stuffy dame – it seemed such a shame.
I looked real close, and she seemed kinda pretty,
But she was so uptight, I had to be polite.

I gave my presentation on rare eukaryotes.
Much to my grand elation, it seemed I’d carry the votes.

I told this broad my work was real ethereal.
She seemed quite aloof, she required more proof.
When I said, “Would you like to see my genetic material,”
She kicked me in the thighs.
So No Belle and No Nobel Prize.

But the worst accident I ever had was meeting that hideous Professor Anna Innana. She has always stood in my way.

Anna: Now you’ve heard it from the source
From the big mouth of the horse.
He says I stood in his way,
Well, it wasn’t quite like that per se.

He was always hoping and pining for
A girl to fall into his lap, so you see that’s why
I was always running and trying to
Prevent yet another mishap with this hopeless guy.

He thinks he’s smooth, he thinks he’s cool
Well he’s as charming as a mule.
Nobel Prize! Well I declare!
He couldn’t win the science fair.

Him: This wretched shrew, she was always somewhere near
Her: The only thing on my mind was how to spare womankind!
Him: But then again, I can hardly blame the dear.
Her: Every discovery meant some poor girl’s recovery.

Him: She thought I was pursuing her, I must have drove her mad.
Her: What a chauvinist pig, I swear he almost drove me mad.
Him: Without my even wooing her, she’d seen I was quite the lad
Her: How could you dare, you unbearable, terrible cad you are!

Him: Finally I said, “Look, enough’s enough my dear”
Her: I’d had all that I could take,
Both: I’ve got my work to do
Him: And I’m sure you do to.

I’ve got to hurry back to my chromosome
I’ve found a new allele!
Her: What a schlemiel he was!
Him: She’s No Belle, but I’ll have my Nobel Prize
Her: Oh, how I despise him

Him: She’s no Belle but I’ll have my Nobel Prize!
Her: He’s No Belle and he’ll have no Nobel Prize!

Finally I’ll Find the Truth!

I recently wrote some songs for a genuINE Country Club Musical.  I had really been wanting to write my own songs, and this was the perfect opportunity to do it.  The plot may go down in the annals of Musical Theater as the most inane ever; I say that fully aware of the statement that I’m making.

I wrote music for 5 of the songs and lyrics for two.  Here’s one song that I wrote both music and lyrics for, called “Finally I’ll Find the Truth”.  It’s sung by a sexy young French foreign exchange student who’s come to the University of Chicago to learn Philosophy the real way.

In France, we have such zest for life,
Our boulevards lined with romance,
But now I seek the rest from life —
A firm philosophical stance.
I’ll leave love behind for the life of the mind,
And find the truth here.

Gone are my nights of passion and bliss,
All that is just for the birds,
No more do I yearn for a passionate kiss,
My passion is only for words.
I’ll tell love, “Adieu,” and I’ll find my milieu
With the truth here.

The games boys play fill me up with ennui,
But here men have brains, so who cares if they’re small and scrawny?

So, now I’m here to pursue without fear
My questions and quand’ries and queries,
I’ll toil away, reading all the day,
for what else can one do in libraries?
I’ll go hit the books and won’t care ’bout my looks,
I’ll work on my proof and remain prim and couth,
While finally finding the truth!

Professor: “But French philosophy has such a rich history of great minds. Why would you want to give that up to come here?”
Emma: “Oh, French philosophers, what a terrible bunch — they never seem to get anything write. Just look at what we’ve had to put up with!”

First, take Montaigne please, can ya please?
For that’s where this mess began to grow.
He was a receptacle for everything skeptical,
But I say, well what does he know?

After it started, it then got Descarted,
Our reason was pushed to the brink,
Well, “Rene,” I say, “you can have your way,
but I am and therefore I think!”

The state of nature you’ll find is great
If your name is Jean Jacques Rousseau,
But it hardly compares to the world of Voltaire’s
The best possible one that I know, Oh!

No stranger a mind are you likely to find
Than the psyche of Albert Camus.
Even sex can read slow when it’s done by Foucault,
Derrida, oh la la, I just have to say “no”!
No, none of these men seek the truth.

So forget those French hacks, they’re not what they seem,
Ah no,
But now I’ve come home to the place of my dreams,

I’m here to discover, no need for a lover,
At night now, my books hold me tight.
Though now I look pretty, I soon will turn gritty,
I’ll grow more aloof while I harbor my youth,
And finally, I’ll find the truth!

And who knows, maybe I’ll even find the time to do some private tutoring… [Professor faints]

3 Waltz Scenes

for Chamber Orchestra

Scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, harp, percussion and strings

I wrote this piece for the musicians of the U of C Chamber Orchestra upon my departure as their music director in the spring of 2008.  The piece is in three “scenes”, each of which has a waltz at its core.

The above recording was made in a concert on October 5, 2009 at Indiana University with a so-called “Ad Hoc” orchestra. Below is the original recording I made in a concert on May 17, 2008 in Chicago. I include it because the performances are so different. I won’t harp on the fact that the musical quality at IU is, um, of a higher caliber, but I should point out the fact that the rooms are so totally different. The recording above sounds like it was made in a bath-tub; below, we were in a nice dry space. For some reason, I did the opposite of what you’re supposed to do in such situations — the performance in the wetter hall is a full minute faster than the one in the arid hall.

Here is a discussion of my performance history with this piece.  Here is a clip from the IU performance, October 2009:

Thy King Cometh

Thy King Cometh is my largest work to date, an oratorio for soloists, choir, and various orchestral forces. It was written in two sections: Music for Holy Week (2006) and Music for Advent (2007).

I began work on it in January 2006 when I was in the employ of the Presbyterian Church of Barrington, IL, and completed the Holy Week portions by early April for liturgical use in the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday services.

Which all sounds right and proper, but let’s break it down: I was the interim music director of a modest, mainline-denominational church in the exurbs of Chicago. I had signed something like a 7-month contract, but I took this as an invitation to take over the most prominent week of the liturgical calendar with a wildly ambitious, multi-movement musical extravaganza which I began writing 4 months before it would be performed.

To say that the clergy were unbelievably supportive (and perhaps naïve) in letting an untested 22-year-old with barely any ecclesiastical experience do such a thing would be an understatement, and I still owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude.

My stint as interim music director came to an end two weeks after Easter 2006, but the congregation banded together to commission more music from me, this time for Advent.

The result when the two sections are added together is a life-of-Christ oratorio that treads the same basic path as Handel’s Messiah. My version is much shorter though, clocking in at just over an hour.

I’ve played the whole piece in concert twice (with some new orchestrations), and individual movements have been done liturgically all over the place. The musical forces vary from piece to piece because I had a different set of musicians on each of the days of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday).

The whole piece, in order, is in the YouTube link above. You can visit pages devoted to the individual movements (and purchase sheet music) below:


Part I: The Nativity

Chorus: “Prepare Ye The Way”

Soprano Solo: Magnificat

Chorus: “Glory to God”

Part II: The Passion

Fanfare I

Introit: “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion”

Chorus: The Triumphal Entry (“Hosanna in the Highest”)

Recitative & Chorus: “The Transgressions of the Wicked”

Fanfare II

Maundy Thursday

Solo Quartet: “I am the True Vine”

Good Friday


Chorus: Jesus on Trial (“Crucify Him!”)

Chorus: “And the Lord Shall Deliver Me”

Psalm 22

Solo: “My Soul Thirsteth”


Part III: The Resurrection

Easter Sunday

Fanfare III

Introit: “This is the Day that the Lord Hath Made”

Recitative & Chorus: “Thanks Be to God!”

Duet: “For I Know that my Redeemer Liveth”