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...jy die pad...

for tenor, violin, violoncello and piano

Composition details


Tenor, Violin, Violoncello, Piano


Ingrid Jonker


c. 15′

Year of composition


  1. Opdrag (Ontvlugting, 1956)

  2. Ek het gaan soek na my eie hart (Rook en Oker, 1963)

  3. Gistraand (Rook en Oker, 1963)

  4. Ramkietjieliedjie (Rook en Oker, 1963)

  5. Afskeid (Ontvlugting, 1956)

Other versions
Composer's statement

This song cycle consists of settings of five poems by South African poet, Ingrid Jonker. My conceptual ideas for each song can be summarised as follows.


In Opdrag I introduce a short cell in the violoncello. This cell is expanded and imitated by two voice line in the piano. This cell also transposes with semitones, and explores different pitch classes of the chromatic scale. The violin has its own motif that later supports the tenor.

Ek het gaan soek na my eie hart

For this song, I worked with two cells, each derived from Set Theory principles. The first cell (Bb, C, Db) and its compliment – the second cell – (D, Eb, F) are used as a basis throughout the composition, but different transpositions, passing tones, and instances of the sets were employed.


In this song, I devoted the majority of the material for the right hand to the white keys of the piano and the majority of the material for the left hand to the black keys of the piano. I used a short motif in the piano that repeats, get out of sync and back into sync again. The tenor line is colouristic, whereas the violin and violoncello play short tones to create alternative colours.


The material of Ramkietjieliedjie is a combination of the three songs mentioned above. I wanted to combine the conceptual ideas in a single song, and also create a sense of unity among the different songs.


When I composed Afskeid, I wanted to follow a more through-composed form where the accompaniment follows the emotion expressed in the text. This song also works more with melody and conventional harmony, rather than abstract conceptual ideas.

Translation of texts


Wees jy die pad waarlangs ek weer

kaalvoet deur die dubbeldorings loop

na waar die varing en die varkblom bloei

– die gousblom kranse oor die velde knoop…


 Be the road which I take back

over the devil’s thorns, barefoot striding

to where the fern and arum-lily bloom

– the daisies in the fields garlands entwine…


 Ek het gaan soek na my eie hart

en lank nadat ek verdwaal het

in die dae wat verbytrek met hul lower

in die lug blou van verte en afsydigheid

het ek gedink dat ek my hart sou vind

waar ek jou oë die twee bruin vlinders

gehou het en ek het die swalu sien opvlieg

en skaduwees spreeus


I went in search of my own heart

and long after I got lost

in the days that passed with frond

in the sky blue of distance and detachment

I thought that I would find my heart

where I kept your two brown butterfly eyes

and the swallows be seen to rise

and starlings’ shadows


gistraand in jou arms

by die perdeskoenmaan

pluk ons ‘n klawer

met vier blare aan

vandag bly ek staan

op die werf by die blik

my hart agterdogtig

soos ‘n hoender wat pik

aan een korrel – ‘n klip

wat skeur deur die hange

die liefde’s niks anders

as die verlange


last night in your arms

at the horseshoe-shaped moon

we picked a clover

with four leaves upon

 today I am still standing

in the yard on the patch

my heart is distrustful

like a chicken that scratch

 at one grain a rock

that rips through the hangings

love is nothing else

but my longing


Net waar ek gaan

is ‘n pad voor my oop

wat skerp uit my oë

soos ‘n litteken loop

Hoe die dag ook verblou

of rooikam om my

ek volg net my hartseer

en die naambord is jy


Wherever I go

an open path lies ahead

which runs sharp-angled

from my eyes like a scar

However the day progresses

orange red and blue

I follow my pain

and road sign has your name


Dit was jou laaste onversoenb’re wens

Dit lê my laaste hoop aan bande

Daarna was ek nie meer dieselfde mens

en staan ek met jou skraal groet in my hande

En leef jy in portrette en ou drome

en leef jy in my siel volmaak en vry:

Wit vlieg die voëls verby die bome

Uit tien wit briewe spreek jou stem tot my.

Toe moes ek my van andere afwend

En toe my ongeneesbaarheid vermoed

Jy sal jouself vir my nooit skend

Want in my hande lê jou laaste groet.


It was your last unforgiving fancy

It limits my last hope to strands

After this I was not the same me

and your thin greeting I now have in my hands

 You live in portraits and time-worn dreams

and you live in my soul complete and free:

White birds are flying past the trees

From ten white letters your voice speaks out to me.

 From others I had to avert myself

And then suspect my incurability

For me you’ll ne’er defile yourself

 in my hand lies your last farewell.

Original texts:  Ingrid Jonker

Translated texts:  Ann-Lize Boshoff


This composition was recorded by Siyabonga Maqungo and the Chamber Music Company of London.


3 October 2009. Fresh Conncetions, Miriam Makeba Theatre, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa. [Ek het gaan soek na my eie hart]. Siyabonga Maqungo (Tenor), Mark Troop (Piano), Jonathan Truscott (Violin), Ben Hess (Violoncello) [Chamber Music Company of London].

Music score

The music score of this composition can be ordered from the composer through the contact page. Please ensure that you provide the correct title and version/instrumentation of the composition that you would like to order.

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