I have still been reworking some instrumental issues, mainly in simplifying and clarifying the means by which they are to produce sounds and their purpose within the context of the musical fabric.
I want to pull back on my use of instruments lately by using them in relationship to the quality of the vocal sound, to reinforce it, rather than act as a foil to it. Two additions to the effetto work towards this end:
- Complex tones via suspension and heterophony, meant to blend and overlap to produce the complex sounds found in the air of the voice
- Alternative intonations that attempt to reflect the shaded contour of the voice
So, for example, LE is not as pure a sound as the RE of solfege—even TA vs A are different in their sonic makeup—all possible syllabic forms are a complex mix of a percussive tone with a breathy trail, and thus both end up sounding different due to their constituent parts, so the instrumental effects are determined in such a way that the textures should reflect and work within that framework.
I then removed the staves from the continuo and left instead note names to represent the harmony. with exception to the intonational demarcations, the register does not matter. I already treated the root pitch as a cipher, not a true pitch, so why not just go a step further? The rhythm does not usually matter, it is generally formless without a word, because it is tied to that it can take that on.
I think it is time to free the tetrachord from the question of register. Exact tones are not as important as identifying and following the textural quality of the word as expressed. In chant the register really doesn't matter, so why not just remove it from the essence of this music. There will be an octave in the species, but the octave species is as I commented in the Prolegomena: a form abstracted from scientific pitch. It represents certain positions among perfect fourths, but it does not reveal what they actually are, because pitch is a cipher for tone: we are the ones who decide A is 440, it was never predetermined, it as well be G#, because we are just applying our own perspective on what already exists.
In polyphony register, range, and tessitura matters, effective vocal writing in a non choral context requires identification of these qualities, so standard notational ciphers are useful, but here in chant? The notation is simply a mnemonic device. Chant is free: the essential truth is that it can be performed by anyone, anywhere, at any time. It is pure music, only bound by corporeal truth, by the body that gives it being.
In some aspect my aim is musical realism in the purest sense: working with, and reacting to, pure phenomena, but through an artistically inclined framework. It is akin to microtonal and spectral thought, but I am thinking in terms of melos, so I make decisions based upon melodic contour first, it is just that my first principles differ from tonality. I begin with the word and then sketch the soundscape, rather than creating one prior, so the result is like that of a psalm tone: fractured, fleeting. It is the sublime feeling of a momentary breeze.
Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia
Copyright © Sean Tartaglia 2022