Presentation Title

Dreams or Dots: Reimagining the Coexistence of Text and Music

Advisor Information

Roger Foltz

Location

Milo Bail Student Center Gallery Room

Presentation Type

Performance

Start Date

8-3-2013 2:15 PM

End Date

8-3-2013 2:30 PM

Abstract

Words and music have been inseparable in choral music since the Renaissance, the beginning of western European art music. Traditionally, the chosen text for a work has always directed the composer to create the work in a specific way. Rhythms must be matched to words, natural syllabic accents observed in the placement of the beat, and musical phrases matched to the text’s intended effect on the audience. While this “text-painting” can sometimes illuminate a body of text, other times it constricts creativity. In my choral piece, I have striven to create a new way that text and choral music can coexist. A choir sings syllables, not of any words in particular, while a male speaker, standing a little apart from the choir, reads a selection of text from the preface to the first edition of Walt Whitman’s great poetic work, “Leaves of Grass.” However, the text is neither random nor strictly rhythmic. I devised a system of music notation that directs the speaker to fit certain phrases of the text into specific units of time, thereby both measuring where the text will go and leaving the exact declamation of the text up to the particular cadence of the speaker’s speech patterns. Around and behind the speaker, the music sung by the chorus provides abstract depictions of the text. By the end of the piece, both parts working together create a new way for an audience to perceive how text and music can create art.

Comments

Winner of Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation

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Mar 8th, 2:15 PM Mar 8th, 2:30 PM

Dreams or Dots: Reimagining the Coexistence of Text and Music

Milo Bail Student Center Gallery Room

Words and music have been inseparable in choral music since the Renaissance, the beginning of western European art music. Traditionally, the chosen text for a work has always directed the composer to create the work in a specific way. Rhythms must be matched to words, natural syllabic accents observed in the placement of the beat, and musical phrases matched to the text’s intended effect on the audience. While this “text-painting” can sometimes illuminate a body of text, other times it constricts creativity. In my choral piece, I have striven to create a new way that text and choral music can coexist. A choir sings syllables, not of any words in particular, while a male speaker, standing a little apart from the choir, reads a selection of text from the preface to the first edition of Walt Whitman’s great poetic work, “Leaves of Grass.” However, the text is neither random nor strictly rhythmic. I devised a system of music notation that directs the speaker to fit certain phrases of the text into specific units of time, thereby both measuring where the text will go and leaving the exact declamation of the text up to the particular cadence of the speaker’s speech patterns. Around and behind the speaker, the music sung by the chorus provides abstract depictions of the text. By the end of the piece, both parts working together create a new way for an audience to perceive how text and music can create art.