Cosmic Lion Goddess

for flute, oboe and piano

Susannah Self

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for flute, oboe and piano

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Composer Susannah Self
Year of Composition 2010
Duration ca.13'
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-ss1clg1


Cosmic Lion Goddess is the title of a print from Northern India of a goddess riding a lion. She is holding the sun and inside her body are many smaller creatures and people, resembling the concept of a Russian doll. I really like this image as a musical starting point, it seems to suggest sets of variations joined together in a musical march representing the complex tapestry of life. The piece is divided into three connected movements:

First Movement: Procession of the Lion Goddess holding the Sun
Second Movement: The Moon Rises
Third Movement: The Orange Sun returns at Dawn

The Cosmic Lion Goddess is a universal image represented often in Hindu art but also Tibetan and Egyptian art. She is the personification of Shakti, the creative force, and she offers protection to all mothers and children. Her lineage is connected to the famous goddess Kali, the giver of life and death, a rich subject.

I composed the trio using the idea of fractals to represent the body of the lion goddess and the figures within her. Fractals described musically are essentially techniques of augmentation and diminution similar to the relationship of leaves to a tree, ie: many smaller but identical structures of the tree itself. I used the Hindu scale Bhairav which is a morning purifying raga in various geometric inversions. I also incorporate the Indian method of adding rhythmic cells known as Tala.

Cosmic Lion Goddess was composed in Oullins, a suburb of Lyon, while I was singing the role of Ma Moss in Copland’s “The Tender Land” for Lyon Opera, January to March 2010.