Scorpion in the Sand by Kerry Turner by been added to the IHS Online Music Library

This dramatic work was commissioned by Thomas Joestlein, with the help of Virgina Arnold, the Meir Rimon Commissioning Assistance Program of the IHS and the Chamber Music Society of Central Virginia. It is based on an old Arabic children´s lesson.

The movements are:

  1. The Scorpion in the Sand
  2. The Circle is Drawn
  3. The Circle is Halved
  4. The Circle is Quartered
  5. Reflections on the Meanings
  6. Death of the Scorpion

The story goes like this: A man in the dessert finds a scorpion. He draws a large circle around it. The scorpion begins to run around the edges of the circle, attempting to find a way out of it. The circle drawn by the man has left a moat-like barrier over which the scorpion believes it cannot jump. Then the man draws a line down the middle of the circle, essentially cutting the circle in half. The scorpion, a little more panicked now, runs even quicker around the indentation left by the man's finger. But alas, it cannot escape. Then the man draws yet another line, dividing the circle into quarters. The scorpion becomes confused and does not seem to be able to fully understand its predicament. It also does not seem to understand that it can, in fact, jump easily over the moat. Then the man draws the fatal line. He encircles the scorpion in a very small circle. The scorpion, in desperation and frustration, stings itself to death. It would rather die than continue to be further and further trapped.

There are many meanings behind this story. It could, for instance, be describing the course of a man's life. The ever-shrinking circles could represent life's mounting duties, obligations, habits, vices, financial dilemnas and other such traps and problems that a man may encounter. The self inflicted sting of the scorpion could represent man‘s self destructing tendencies in order to cope with these problems, i.e. alcohol, drugs, crime, and other addictions which ultimately lead to one‘s death. The lesson is, the scorpion could have easily walked out of the perimeter of the circle. Either it could not see over the indentation or it was afraid of what was on the other side. Or perhaps it was simply preoccupied with its present dilemna and could not think about anything else.

The piece is rather difficult and has a duration of about 10 minutes.

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