Da gaie lande

(2018) for boy voice  and electronics ad libitum [2’] on a poem by Christian Morgenstern from Galgenlieder (1905)

Voice version premiered at: Chiesa di San Torpete, Genova, June 1st 2019

Voice: Marta Cereda

Commissioned by Fondazione Giorgio e Lilli Devoto

When I was invited to join the group of composers who were asked to set the lyrics of the Christian Morgensten zoo, Galgenlieder (1905), to music, I could not resist the temptation to refer to Gesang der Jünglinge. Quite a bland reference, because neither the size (2′), nor the destination of my work (live voice) could remotely approach the complex and elaborate process of composition of Stockhausen’s masterpiece.

I started by distributing the syllables of the text in a matrix:

Since column (9) represents either a pause or a spoken syllable, and therefore is outside any parametric attribution, I created the five matrices for pitch, entry delay, duration, dynamics and timbre in dimensions of 8 x 8, then proceeding with permutations as in a classic serial system.

The pitch series adopted is a sequence of 7 whole tones:

While I used the first four matrices (starting from different series) for both voice and electronics, the timbre matrix was used to compose only the electronic part. The sounds that make up the ‘scale’, all obtained from a recording of a seven years old girl’s voice, are the following:

1. sinusoid as filtering one or more components (depending on the intensity) of the voice

2. sinusoid that glides

3. spoken (also chords)

4. groups of impulses (from vibrating or looping occlusive consonants)

5. white noise (from sibilant and fricative consonants)

6. white noise gliding

7. vocoding with a tiger sound

8. vocoding with a mosquito sound

Text (Italian translation by Nicola Ferrari)

Das GeierlammLa tigre-zanzara
Das Lämmergeier ist bekannt,
das Geierlamm erst hier genannt.

Der Geier, der ist offenkundig,
das Lamm hingegen untergrundig.

Es sagt nicht hu, es sagt nicht mäh
und dich auf aus nächster Näh.

Und dreht das Auge dann zum Herrn.
Und alle haben’s herzlich gern.
Una zanzara-tigre Linneo l’ha già censita
ma una tigre zanzara non si sapeva in vita.

La tigre è grande, ardita;
la zanzara: si schiaccia con le dita.

Non dice zzzz, non dice ahhh –
se ti avvicini, ti sbranerà:

strabuzza gli occhi, guarda assassina
ma a tutti pare soltanto carina.

The score is printed in: Christian Morgenstern Galgenlieder. Un bestiario improbabile tradotto da Nicola Ferrari in trascrizioni, travestimenti e fanfole, Fondazione Giorgio e Lilli Devoto in Genova, 2019.