11,5-27, 2022



Orchestra - -

perc(2) - pno.cel - harp -






Generally when I write most of my pieces I am not really interested in the instruments at hand. The reasons are obvious: the liturgical tradition is one of instrumental ambiguity, and my aesthetics and methodology skew towards the voice as the main melodic, harmonic, and timbral aspect of the music, with the instruments serving as continuo, an optional way of coloring the main musical statement.

However, in working with more instrumental music, which I rarely do outside of necessity, I tend to shift my interest towards creating definite groupings that serve a different purpose than standard orchestral writing often gives music. This allows me to work with a more standardized notation—some proof that I can express my ideas in traditional notation and that my notational decisions are purposeful; however, I am still this peculiar form of vocal composer, even in a more instrument-focused setting, so the groupings tend to fit the voice. The Word always plays a role in my music, even in this situation.

For a very long time with synths and soundfonts I have been interested in the merging of multiple instruments into a single timbral entity, a sort of miniature orchestration that creates new bodies of sounds. Like the use of voix celeste in organ registration, it is about the melding of differing textures to make a new one. Differences in timbre and tuning, when focused, could create a new instrument, where the distinction between the differences leads to unique sum tones.

So, despite a less indeterminate approach, it really is an extension of my writing instrumental textures as "within" the voice, an expanded form of what I do with a voice, taking a microscope to the structure of the expression of a word. It happens to be that using a more standardized notation allows for greater specificity, which is more of an asset in an orchestra than in most chamber formations. Thus, the orchestra represents harmonic, effectual, and textural gestures, the hidden world within the word.

I want to explode the word into a texture, so that when we are within the word we are engaging with it as sound as opposed to meaning. The meaning of the text only comes through the expression of the word, but here it is not so much that we're working with that, but rather entering the microscopic view to form a harmony within a word without resorting to a spectrally influenced composition by identifying a core sound and sculpting up from it. Each part of the score represents different degrees of distance from the core sound, coming together to form a singular, complex harmony.

Here the point of departure is Lassus' chromaticism, which is expanded, entered, and, from the interior, engaged with. Because I am interested in all the complex harmonic implications of a sound, every quotation appears as to form a basis for expanding the musical universe harmonically. There is more motion in Lassus' setting, but here I flatten it for the sake of drawing out harmonic content, as well as creating points of departure, and the result is the same in structure as all of my other recitative.

There is a certain conceit to this... I wanted the polyphonic afterthoughts to sound as if I were quoting someone else, a sort of reverse Schnittke, or in the case of my inspiration, the opposite of what Takemitsu did in the score for Rikyu. There he wrote broad, hanging harmonies that melted into an early baroque polyphony, but here I am transcribing Renaissance polyphony into a series of hanging gardens that melt into my melodies. Though Lassus is my point of departure, much of the music should not necessarily draw too much connection aurally, aside from a few sections where I leave it obvious.

Romantics and impressionists deal with feeling and experience, modernists with systems and means, spectralists with raw sonic material. I deal with the Word, in both what it is, as well as what it being be. The value of the word is that which is within it, and that is what I wish to bring out in the music.

Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia