THE COMPOSING OF
for choir SSAATTBB a capella
LUX AETERNAM is being composed at this moment using provided parameters: The lyrics must be of sacred nature and must be for SATB choir with the possibility of doubling the voices (SSAATTBB). It also must be between 4 and 6 minutes.
First section. LUX AETERNAM, LUCEAT EIS DOMINE
DESIGN OF THE CONCEPT
September 2019. The initial steps in composing a piece for choir is to gather the lyrics and extract the meaning, symbology, imagery and their projection. Then take all this information and figure how this is going to be represented with the music.
LUX AETERNAM (Eternal light) will start with a beam of clear light, a pure A-440 as the start of the piece, representing pure white light. This pure light will then open into a color spectrum as a cluster of sound traveling in crescendo as the light passes through environments.
When the spectrum settles, then the word AETERNAM will develop forming a Eb Major chord with 6 and 9, which is a settling chord that doesn't require resolution and doesn't inspire tension or movement. It represents eternity.
LUCEAT EIS. (May the light shine upon them). Contemplating the options of developing it as texture or as harmonic melody.
Texture is a very interesting tool for the modern choir composition, yet if abused, it can easily disconnect the listener from the piece. Alternating the effects of sound texture and harmony, or melody, or both, provides the listener with a thread to follow throughout the section and link all the elements together.
Therefore I am more inclined to develop this section with a melodic element led by the soprano line, coming from the previous section.
The meaning of LUCEAT EIS (May the light shine upon them) has important elements in it: light, and them. These elements will be reflected in the treatment of the music.
Light (LUCEAT) will bring sound in a pure tone, starting with an unison voice. Upon them (EIS) will take that light and convert it into all sort of colors as it pours upon the people. To explain that we go to the next image.
The cascade effect of LUCEAT EIS will start with a pure unison melody in the soprano line (LUCEAT) representing light, and the moment it reaches EIS (upon them) the unison will start cascading down and opening up forming a complex chord of 1-3-5-7-9-11-13, yet this chord must follow some parameters to be in concordance with the message.
The resulting chord should be complex because it represents the diversity of the people the light is shining upon, yet it should not be a dissonant chord because it represents the light upon the people, in a state of illumination.
I will be experimenting with the resulting chord, altering the tensions until I find the sonority that balances the elements of complexity and luminosity.
There is a chance I may also modify the chord so rather than being pure stacked thirds, I may use a #4 to evoke the ethereal environment of the lydian mode.
For the text DOMINE (Lord) I started by listing four options.
- Treating the word as a plead
- Treating it as a statement
- A conclusion of a section
- Developing the color that came from before and continue unfolding the inertia of the unfolding harmony
- Treating the word DOMINE with simplicity and resolve it into an open chord of 1-5-8
The page to the left shows that I have gone the route of creating a melody that leads the harmony, and the voices will form a chord progression that ends in a non-conclusive cadence, and therefore continue the inertia of the energy into the next section.
I find this solution will provide more flow than closing small sections with concluding cadences.
CUM SANCTIS TUI IN AETERNUM. (with your saints for ever). Movement of voices in counterpoint or in paprllel, with the impression of plurality (the saints). I am choosing to move the voice vertically in parallel motion.
The motion will be lead by the melody of the original gregorian chant. For this I extracted the chant melody and create a harmonic progression that blends chord voicing from jazz harmonies, yet maintains the image of an organum.
The entire sequence and chord progression will be repeated, elevated one whole step up to create a progressive build up that will conclude in QUIA PIUS EST (for You are merciful).
QUIA PIUS EST (for you are merciful) will be the conclusion of the first section of this piece. The word QUIA (You) will be the highest point yet in the piece, emphasized by repeating it three times (a reference to the concept of "three in one") and holding a great amount of energy. This statement will be followed by a descending progression that holds the weight of the voices, gradually entering a quieter place, a place that will prepare the mood for the next section: REQUIEM AETERNAM DONA EIS DOMINE.
REQUIEM AETERNAM DONA EIS, DOMINE, ET LUX PERPETUA LUCEAT EIS
September 30, 2019.
This section is sketched with rich harmonies using a wide range of the voices, with a melody in ascending motion carrying the entire texture on an upward journey. When the text says "ET LUX" it will briefly go back to unison to open up the sound into the "PERPETUA" and traveling through the "LUCEAT EIS".
I still have not decided if I am going to end the piece in "LUCEAT EIS" or in a more conclusive "AMEN", which in my opinion would provide a more resolute closing, especially on the syllable "A-MEN" which has a better vowel than the syllable "E-IS".
Other large format multi-movement Requiems end in "EIS", but considering that this piece is not part or movement of a Requiem, but a single self-standing piece, I will defend that it sholud be appropriate to close it with an "AMEN".
The next step:
Now that the complete sketch of LUX AETERNAM is finished, my next chapter is to develop these ideas into a fully written piece. While I work on this, I will also start the sketch for my next project: a commissioned piece also for choir, with a text by poet laureate Reed Whittemore. The text is still to be chosen.
Thanks for reading these notes! -Gabriel
Thanks for reading these notes! -Gabriel