From The Book Of Songs is a song cycle in the art-song tradition.
The music is formed using a variety of microtonal harmonic fields based on the harmonic series, and notated using 1/8 tones. The music was inspired by attending a lecture by the Soprano Jane Manning OBE, then listening to her performances of three Messiaen song cycles.
From the Book Of Songs was realised firstly using the computer to produce the microtonal harmonic field whilst simultaneously writing the soprano part, imagining how it will sound. Having met Jane Manning, I sent her my early handwritten sketches of the song cycle. My music was well received by Jane and I was lucky enough therefore to have developed the final version of the piece with the insightful and kind support of the performer.
The text for the songs comes from Arthur Waley’s interpretation of the classical Chinese work, The Book of Songs. It comprises of 370 individual poetic writings
My song cycle From The Book of Songs utilises solo soprano, and tape (i.e. electronic computer music or fixed-media). The tape part is produced using computer music technology to realise a set of piano-like timbres, as well as an electroacoustic element. This element is particularly prominent in the song Small Stars, as it utilises a series of sine waves, shaped and transformed into a morphing sonic texture. The vocal writing includes some extended techniques, as well as a broad vocal range, throughout the full register of the soprano part.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of timbre used in the realisation of this song cycle: the voice (soprano), a piano-like timbre, and a sine wave texture. This chapter, having firstly provided a wider context for the work, then primarily focuses on the creation of the microtonal harmonic field, and the relationship of the music and the text, as it is realised in the soprano and tape parts. The microtonal field is a prominent feature of the music, but not every aspect of the compositional process utilises patterning processes. Other compositional aspects are therefore also briefly discussed. These are the use of onomatopoeia, the musical expression of ideas from the text, and chordal writing. This brief insight into the more general compositional techniques at work provides an illustration of the starting point from which later developments of more extensive creative patterning processes emerge, and are applied to subsequent pieces in the portfolio.
released October 23, 2016
Soprano: Jane Manning OBE
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