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Gylfi

Chant and variations on Shakespeare‘s 127th sonnet

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Hi,

This is my entry for the summer competition, I hope you enjoy.

Some notes not covered by the program notes:

1) I know there are some minor errors in the score, namely lack of "instrument names" in the second variation. I didn't notice them until too late and I do not have the files with me to correct them - so be it. I also know that the variations are not titled, that was somewhat intentional but mostly a cause of me not having enough time to properly finish the score. Actually, Lilypond is my engraver of choice but I really didn't have time for all that noise this time around so I had to use MuseScore, which is just about the only thing I hate more than Lilypond.

2) I apologize for the lackluster quality of the audio. I was originally planning to record it myself in some sense of the word but again, time constraints caught up to me and I had to rely on MIDI which fails to convey much of what is in the score.

3) This was planned to be a set of five variations but I couldn't complete the two remaining variations in time so it is only a set of three as is. I plan to continue working on them and may post this work again in its completed form later on, perhaps with a real performance. These variations would have been the very first variation and the very last. So the ones you hear here are just the middle three - If it sounds like the piece ends abruptly that's because it does.

EDIT:

4) Even though I said in the program notes that the microtones shouldn't be quarter tones, the playback does indeed only have quarter tones. It's not because that's the only thing that was available to me, I actually have very tight control of the intonation, but without real overtones the effect is a little bit too subtle to be exciting. Of course, singing quarter tones is just as impossible as singing in equal temperament, so the recording should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.

5) The music is very intricately tied to the text in a literal way but there is also a philosophical connection which is so impossibly personal that I would rather not talk about it. I'll leave that to the listeners to discover, or better yet, decide for themselves what the text means to them.

Edited by Gylfi
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So I don't know if you know this, but this sonnet is part of what scholars call the "Dark Lady" sonnets, which are odes to a unknown person that differ from his previous ones, not necessarily in tone, but in audience. What I think is cool that you've done is weave in between this with varying articulation. 
These sonnet type reiterations kind fo bothered me a little bit because some of the beauty of the sonnet originally was its Iambic Pentameter, but you've also seemed to figure out how to cope with that in your writing. Glad you could make it in on time!

 

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This is a very well thought out and intriguing piece. I think the second variation in particular is astoundingly beautiful. I really hope you do complete the other variations, and it would be great to hear a real performance, since midi yields so little with choral music. 

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As firmly anchored in the "common practice" as I am, I can't deny this kind of composition leaves me equally puzzled and amazed. The notation itself seems rather simple - but it's the hidden nuances of it (most of which tend to escape the ear at first) what actually make the piece work. The rhythm provided by the text itself, and the voices imitating a (tightly prescribed) declamation, seem to come full circle between ancient and modern music. It's a pity that MIDI can't be better for the full appreciation of it.

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On 17/08/2016 at 3:25 PM, Monarcheon said:

So I don't know if you know this, but this sonnet is part of what scholars call the "Dark Lady" sonnets, which are odes to a unknown person that differ from his previous ones, not necessarily in tone, but in audience. What I think is cool that you've done is weave in between this with varying articulation. 
These sonnet type reiterations kind fo bothered me a little bit because some of the beauty of the sonnet originally was its Iambic Pentameter, but you've also seemed to figure out how to cope with that in your writing. Glad you could make it in on time!

I'm not a Shakespeare scholar, and did my best in interpreting the text with the limited knowledge I have. I would be glad if you could elaborate.

On 17/08/2016 at 3:26 PM, fishyfry said:

This is a very well thought out and intriguing piece. I think the second variation in particular is astoundingly beautiful. I really hope you do complete the other variations, and it would be great to hear a real performance, since midi yields so little with choral music. 

Amen.

On 17/08/2016 at 8:24 PM, Austenite said:

As firmly anchored in the "common practice" as I am, I can't deny this kind of composition leaves me equally puzzled and amazed. The notation itself seems rather simple - but it's the hidden nuances of it (most of which tend to escape the ear at first) what actually make the piece work. The rhythm provided by the text itself, and the voices imitating a (tightly prescribed) declamation, seem to come full circle between ancient and modern music. It's a pity that MIDI can't be better for the full appreciation of it.

I must admit that I myself have become somewhat poisoned by listening to the playback too much, but "tightly prescribed declamation", if you are referring to the beginning chant, is not at all the point. In fact, it should be free like the music it is referencing, as I outlined in the program notes. So, while it is certainly charming to have a merciless barrage of eighth notes with the text and the odd quarter note providing syncopation, that wasn't quite what I had in mind originally (although it shouldn't be so free that there are made up rhythms).

Thanks for the kind words, all. I hope you forgive me for refraining from commenting on your works, as I feel it is not my place. I may leave a comment somewhere down the line after the dust has settled, but it is a matter of principle for me not to critique, even if positively, the works of my colleagues.

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Very original and beautiful. The parts are complimentary. The monofonic chant in the first part, with the text, in a solid introduction. The second part is great, I love how you manage dissonances and consonances, and those extended chords. The other parts are more contrapuntal and contrasting.

Well, I' fond of this contemporary music. So, thanks.

Just a suggestion: the layout of the score could be better. Not only to "save" pages, but to make it more accessible.

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