Lyrical Abstraction Scale

1 – Clifton Smith – “Ingredients for Food Club Whole Wheat Penne Rigate” (chant of single ingredient)
2 – Marin Marais – “Tableau of a Bladder Operation” (straightforward catalogue of events)
3 – Bob Dylan – “The Hurricane” (straightforward editorial)
4 – 50 Cent (featuring Olivia) – “Candy Shop” (thin metaphor)
5 – Beatles – “Blackbird” (riddle-like text, but more straightforward than “Who by Fire”)
6 – Leonard Cohen – “Who by Fire” (riddle-like text)
7 – Don McLean – “American Pie” (difficult metaphors throughout)
8 – Counting Crows – “Omaha” [highly abstract, but with recognizable patterns and possible theme(s)]
9 – Beatles – “I am the Walrus” (intentionally abstract)
10 – Ella Fitzerald – “One-Note Samba” (scat vocal)

“Tableau of a Bladder Operation”

“Operation de la taille” was the the medical procedure for removing a bladder stone by cutting (taille = cutting in French). For a perineal lithotomy (removal of a bladder stone), the patient was tied into the position used in modern medicine for the gynecologic exam and still called the “lithotomy position.” Jacques Beaulieu (Frère Jacques) performed 4,500 perineal lithotomies including several in Paris and Versailles. He may have been the surgeon who did the operation to which Marais is referring. Because the operations were performed without anesthesia, speed was of the essence. William Cheselden, (1688-1752) considered the greatest lithotomist of all time, reportedly performed perineal lithotomies in 53 seconds. Given this, it’s possible that the operation in Marais suite is intended to depict the procedure in real time.

–Mai-Lan Broekman, MD, VdGSA News, Sept. 2006

View of the surgical apparatus
Trembling of the patient
Resolution to climb the operating table
Arrival at the top
Lowering of the operating table
Serious reflections
Arms and legs are tied
with silk ropes
The incision is made
The surgical forceps are inserted
The stone is pulled
The patient almost loses his voice
Flow of blood
The ropes are untied
The patient is transported onto his bed
The recovery
L’aspect de l’appareil.
Frémissement en le voyant.
Résolution pour y monter.
Parvenu jusqu’en haut.
Descente dudit appareil.
Réflexions sérieuses.
Entrelacements des soies
entre les bras et les jambes.
Ici se fait l’incision.
Introduction de la tenette.
Ici l’on tire la pierre.
Ici l’on perd quasi la voix.
Écoulement du sang.
Ici l’on ôte les soies.
Ici l’on vous transporte dans le lit.
Les relevailles.