siccoque siccoque


9,4-9,14 2020


2 Violinists



Note on Notation



If it can be said that my vocal language has come into its own, having become mature enough to effectively express the textures and shapes of the human voice—an achievement that I initially sought in studying the approaches to vocal composition in stile antico, moderno, e Partch—it could then also be said that I have relinquished a proper mastery of instrumental expression, which, in the few works with instruments, Consolation and Besitzen, has taken a tertiary, inferior role to word and vocalise. In both these works the instruments either reveal no pitch content, only neumatic rhythm, or express word through the instrument.

The work at hand serves to remedy this by using the ideas developed for the voice in the context of the instrument. Consequently, I admitted to myself that I had to make concessions to modern notation in the form of the five line staff, but otherwise I still refused to allow for anything more than a pitch with coloristic effects or ornamentation. This might appear stilted or static to some, but remember that this music moves not by pulse or according to passing time, but reflects the eternal present of each syllable, each total word.

To turn toward this, I returned to the Greek poetic foot, an old method of rhythmic delineation I used in my early student days, to give the instruments a drive similar to that of the poetics found in my intoned and sung music (which, I hope, might defend my use of Latin as my primary mode of expression).

This was necessary as the great distress in writing pure music is that it is totally abstract. Vocal music has the influence of the action and meaning of the word in the conception of a composition, and these are innate, directly drawn from, and experienced through, the body itself.

Yet, pure music seems to lack this, and it seems to me that the only way to deal with such a dilemma is to accept it as something that is, to me, inadequate in human expression, so much so that it does not really express itself, but seeks to use the manner the voice expresses itself as a means of expression—making it sing, so to speak.

Thus, I find in this music that the only real melody can come from the voice, from the reciting tones, the rest appears to be wisps or fragments of something, not necessarily random or incomprehensible, but certainly not related in the sense we expect pitches to be.

Sean Patrick Ignatius Tartaglia

Latin text:
arefacio et siccoque siccoque hoc desicco granum

sicut tellus hortus est, sic quoque vites sumus;
talis laboravi fructus sucosi

English text:
I dry and I dry and I dry and I dry this seed

Just as the world is a garden, so, too, are we vines;
I am weary of such juicy fruit