Thursday, April 5, 2012

Te Deum

I should be translating some more Ovid right now, but I just thought up an idea that I'm really excited about.

I've been in a compositional slump for about eight months now, but I think I'm about to come out of it.

I love this text, and have for some time. I love the English and the Latin versions, and this morning I was toying with the idea of setting it for a choir, but I decided I didn't want to: 1) It's been done so many times already by much better composers. 2) A full SATB choir and orchestra (or even organ) accompaniment felt like too much work. The text is pretty long, after all. 3) I couldn't decide if I wanted to do it in English or Latin.

Then, all at once, the idea came to me. Three high voices (soprano or tenor, it won't matter), accompanied by a solo cello. The first voice will sing Latin and stand in for the Father. The second voice will sing English and stand in for the Son. The third voice will sing a vocalise and stand in for the Spirit.

The piece will also function as a puzzle. Each of the three voices will be able to stand alone, and if a vocalist wished to perform any of the three parts as a solo, the cello part + the other vocal lines could be played on a piano (or preferably organ) as accompaniment.

There are obvious theological metaphors at work here. The three personages of the Godhead sing independent but mutually reliant melodies, all working in harmony. The text they sing is fundamentally the same and entirely different. There's a unity in their constant metamorphosis.

Anyway, I need to clear some time up in my schedule to start working on this thing. I wish I'd thought of this a month ago and that it would be ready for Easter, but alas.

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