(2002) five pieces for two voices (male and female) and 8 tracks tape [16’ 34”]
Premiered at Basilica di Santa Maria in Montesanto, Roma, December 5th 2003
Voices: Antonio Bortolami, Alessandra Vavasori
Sound projection: Roberto Doati Commissioned by Lanfranco Menga for Ensemble Oktoechos
“Sopra i monti degli aromi” is a journey into the Song of Songs through Gregorian Chants, Medieval polyphonies and electroacoustic compositions. It has been realized with the Ensemble Oktoechos conducted by Lanfranco Menga on a project by Emanuele Pappalardo, Paolo Pachini, Lanfranco Menga and Roberto Doati.
The guide lines for the compositions of my five pieces are suggested by unity and dualism concepts: the ille and the illa of the Song text, eroticism and sacred love, the human and the sacred. The vocal score is built on a few pitches, very often repeated to point out a sense of belonging to the earth. Nevertheless this kind of hochetus is sometimes broken by highest notes to mean the spiritual, the aim – not always achieved – to conquer the heaven, or it is broken by short speeches and non-singing vocal articulations. These articulations and recordings from everyday life of the two singers (Alessandra Vavasori and Antonio Bortolami) complement each other, so that each performer unfold oneself by means of the singing (the spiritual) and the speech (the corporeity). It is within the electronic part that I ideally accomplish the unity concept by using signal convolution technique. The frequency components of a male voice (or choir) are spectrally shaped by a female choir (or single voice), underlining both the physicality of the closely recorded voice and its fading into the reverberant space of a church. All the sound materials are coming from Ensemble Oktoechos performances of ancient music based on Song of Songs:
d’yn e n’yn are convolutions between men and women performances of “Jam hiems” and “Veni electa mea” antiphonies;
b’yt, for female voice and electronics, is an elaboration of a fragment from the Sequenza “O ecclesia” by Hildegard von Bingen. Illa leaves her bed and go out into the night to look for her lover;
spyrty is the love duet and is built upon “Tota pulchra es, anima mea” by Heinrich Isaac: spyrty I is scored for electroacoustic tape, while spyrty II is performed by male and female voices with electronics. Actually it is not a conjunction song, it is rather a parallel song, like moving along side by side though the woman primacy in the Song text is reflected by the different weight of the vocal parts. The vocal score is obtained from the transcription of the resonances pitches and durations brought out by the convolution between single parts of the Isaac’s motet, while the electronic part turns over long static vocal resonances with lively sequences of voice grains;
d’yl, for male voice and electronics on the Sequenza “In multo desiderio” by Hildegard von Bingen, represents the expectation. Ille is inviting her beloved to unveil her face and to let him hear her voice. It is an invitation to intimacy, pointed out by the counterpoint of live and recorded voices that express happiness, surprise, passion and erotic sighs.
In lectulo meo per noctes
quaesivi quem diligit anima mea
quaesivi illum et non inveni.
Expoliavi me tunica mea, quomodo induar illa?
lavi pedes meos, quomodo inquinabo illos?
By night on my bed,
I sought him whom my soul loves.
I sought him, but I didn’t find him.
I have taken off my robe. Indeed, must I put it on?
I have washed my feet. Indeed, must I soil them?
Ille Ecce tu pulchra es amica mea
ecce tu pulchra, oculi tui columbarum.
Illa Ecce tu pulcher es dilecte mi et decorus,
lectulus noster floridus
tigna domorum nostrarum cedrina
laquearia nostra cypressina.
Lover Behold, you are beautiful, my love.
Behold, you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves.
Beloved Behold, you are beautiful, my beloved, yes, pleasant;
and our couch is verdant.
The beams of our house are cedars.
Our rafters are firs.
Surge amica mea speciosa mea et veni,
columba mea in foraminibus petrae
in caverna maceriae.
Ostende mihi faciem tuam
sonet vox tua in auribus meis
vox enim tua dulcis et facies tua speciosa.
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
In the hiding places of the mountainside,
Let me see your face.
Let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.