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by William Roper

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Hippopotamus. Hippopotamus. Greek: hippos, meaning horse. Potamus - river, given in allusion to its semi aquatic habitat. Hippopotamus. At intervals during the night, the hippopotamus bellows and roars. A large African river mammal with dark, thick, almost hairless skin, short legs, a broad snout and a wide mouth. The mouth is enormous and the upper lip is thick and bulging. The hippopotamus is a social animal. Eight or nine months after mating, the cow gives birth to a single young. Sometimes there will be twins. To pre-dynastic Egyptians TAUERET was a hippopotamus-deity, a mother-goddess. The mother of Isis and Osiris. TAUERET was the protectress of women in pregnancy and childbirth. To the people of middle and southern Africa, the hump on the back of the hippopotamus is representative of the stomach of a pregnant woman. A hippopotamus rising our of the river is representative of a pregnant woman breaking her water. The hippo is mother. Alice Inez was my mother. The hippopotamus can stay submerged for long periods. Water is the symbol of the unconscious - Alice Inez was diagnosed as mentally ill; lost in the sea of unconsciousness, emerging occasionally (like the Hippo) onto the land of consciousness. The Hippopotamus roars and bellows at night. The Hippopotamus sweats blood.


Hippopotamus is a project of two extended works. They are both about death. (To the extent that music is about anything at all.) One about the death of a person (my mother), the other the death of love (any number of people). Curiously enough, the first one is the more overtly joyful piece. Also they both have totems, so to speak. Hippopotamus is obvious. The hippo symbolizes motherhood for the Africans. The totem of Etoiles is the rat. Rats are about perfidy and betrayal. As I said, it is an end of love song.

I was joined on this recording by some very fine musicians. The primary unit here is Judicanti Responsura, a tuba and percussion duo of myself and my long-time partner in crime, Joseph Mitchell. We are joined by Glenn Horiuchi, on Etoiles. Robin Ross and Kim Richmond on Hippopotamus. I played a lot with the late Glenn Horiuchi. He was a dynamic and versatile musician. He shows his softer, more subdued side on Etoiles.


released August 13, 2020

William Roper - tuba, percussion, spoken word, water, roars.
Joseph Mitchell - percussion, mallets.
Kim Richmond - clarinet.
Robin Ross - viola.
Glenn Horiuchi - piano.
Hippopotamus recorded at Newzone Studio, Wayne Pete - engineer.
Etoiles recorded at Pacifica Studios, Glenn Nishida - engineer.
Mastered at Newzone Studio, Wayne Pete - engineer.
All paintings, drawings and photos by William Roper.
The recording of Hippopotamus was made possible through a grant from the American Composers Forum.


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William Roper Los Angeles, California

William Roper is a multi-disciplinary artist residing in Los Angeles. His primary foci are music composition, music performance and improvisation, and the visual arts. He has toured Japan, Europe, and the two Americas, as soloist and ensemble musician. He is represented on 60+ recordings, twelve as leader. ... more

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