Kyrie Brevis


4,24-5,27 2021


Natural Voice





Upon reflecting on the prime goal of my music as universal, holistic, and easily expressed, the method I have been using seemed far too complicated, and it seem that I could convey the same with less insofar as I could properly explain it. Therefore, after careful deliberation, I decided to throw away what I built up over the last year and return to the neume itself.

In short, there are two colors of neumes, red and black, which each signify a way of expressing a pitch. Red neumes are intoned according to the sound of the word, the pitch determined by the pitch of its vowel. Black neumes are sung freely, ignoring the sounds of their words.

Thus, black neumes are always determined in relationship to the pitch that appears before them: if the pitch DO appears before the black neume, the black neume uses that as a point of reference, whether it stays on the same pitch or moves. Black neumes can represent the basic tone, but they also can represent moving up and down a tone; moreover, they can be modified by the red diacritic, which can represent raised or lowered forms of those pitches, be they more than a tone or less than a tone.

These are simple, yet to come to them required a great deal of time, writing several pieces only to give up on them, finding not only the work insufficient, but the means to express them moreso. During that process I was also growing frustrated: I found it increasingly futile to reconcile my shifting theoretical, philosophical, and compositional desires with not only notation as it was, but music as it was: that vision of the world was too limited when compared with the infinite potential I glimpsed in the natural voice alone. What I wanted to express seemed best so in these terms, and if I have cut myself off from others, be they musicians, composers, or theorists, when I might have worked with them, then such a fate was inevitable. What I wish to do is highly irrational, from what I have tried to do professionally, whether it be open submissions or competitions, as most fledging composers attempt, I realize that I have no place in that cultural landscape. I am too focused on liturgical forms for the secular, too focused on experimental freedom for the liturgical, too open in interpretational uncertainty for the professional, and too demanding in interpretational strictness for the amateur. What I am doing is the opposite path of one who wishes for a professional career, but perhaps that irrational path is the one truer to me in the end.

Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia