African Composers Edition

Online publisher of African compositions

Morena Tlake

Morena Tlake was almost certainly written in the 1960s and tells a very simple, stark tale of crows asking ‘king vulture’ to come and open up a dead carcass whose skin is too tough, so that everyone can devour the meat. Possibly based on an old popular song, it is also perhaps a political allegory for the violence suffered by people in Lesotho and South Africa during the 60s, not only by their respective regimes but also by warring factions within their countries. The song is one of few by Moerane scored for SAATB with Soprano and Bass also dividing as well from time to time, which gives the work a rich contrapuntal texture. It is dramatic in style, using rhetorical flourishes, long sustained notes, rapid repeated motifs, vocal hocketing, and a text in which the words 'morena tlake' are uttered countless times. Unusually for Moerane, but in the spirit of defiance that the song seems to express, he quotes from the music of the African anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, at the end of the piece.
The first audio sample below is drawn from the current ACE publication, which is based on Moerane's original manuscript. It is followed by a link to a competition rendering of the song, sung by the Serumula Performing Arts Academy of Maseru.
Duration: 2'15"


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Morena Tlake complete score published by ACE

Moerane Critical Edition

Morena Tlake complete tonic solfa typescript

Thuso Moerane private collection, Queenstown

Morena Tlake audio sample (piano)

Audio Sample
Sibelius file
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