The Mass is, for me, not simply a text for liturgical use; rather, it is a collection of forms, for, in the examples we possess, it is not always necessarily a full setting, as, due to unknown reasons, some composers set only certain sections. Whether they truly be Missae Breves, or are missing parts and are incomplete, they set a precedent: the Mass as a musical form does not strictly consist of five mandatory parts, but rather is a possible collection of parts that are already contextually understood as being part of the Liturgy.
Knowing well that any use of a setting of a mass is augmented by chant/hymns, the freedom of a partial setting allows me to do what I think is the most important in focusing on the word as the source of form, as opposed to some factors external to it, which reveals its essential musical qualities, not those musical qualities placed upon it. Thus, the Mass becomes this sort of vocal suite, where the qualities of the texts as forms provide the collection its total effect. I can choose sections of the Liturgy for thematic, formal, or symbolic reasons and compose freely, however I wish to express myself.
From this we find the title of this work: the beginning and ending of the Mass are set, these explicitly not being part of the ordinary, but those parts that would be intoned by the celebrant. Modularity is inherent in this choice: the ordinary sits between these so that in liturgical practice the art is in how one uses these to frame the rest of the Mass. What's key to this, and all other facets of my work, is that the goal is not the composition itself, but rather the use of it, where it is placed, and in what context. Just as the Liturgy to those who are faithful is not a weekly event, but rather intrinsic to the experience of life, so too is my conception of music.
Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia
Copyright © Sean Tartaglia 2021