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Work in Progress

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May 2023 - present

The Cloud
A song cycle for Baritone and String Quartet

A script by Aubrey Lavender

Composer's that influenced The Cloud:

Kaija Saariaho

Unkuk Chin

Hans Abrahamsen

Wolfgang Rihm

György Ligeti

Caroline Shaw

Nico Muhly

Othmar Schoeck

Robert Schumann 

The Cloud sets an original text, by English writer Aubrey Lavender, that seeks to highlight contemporary social political subjects. The story is based in two overlapping stories that alternates back and forth between the two, focusing on technological revolution with echos of other broader types of revolution. One of the stories is about a lonely elderly right wing man. He tries to remove some protesters from his oil-executive son's event and inadvertently gets glued to the stage. Loving the attention he has got from his “protest”, he decides to join the Just Stop Oil movement. The other story is about a prince preparing for his coronation. When he learns of the new face tracking revolutionary technology, introduced by the police in order to track offenders in the coronation, the prince (unhappy) tries to put a stop to it. The prince is pressured to not to interfere and concedes. Halfway through the story, a glitch in the ID system switches the two men files in the database. The prince gets arrested, is sent to a mental institution and the elderly pensioner gets coronated.

Music normally starts on a normal practice day at the piano, where I would improvise chords, melodies, mostly modal passages that allow me to explore sounds and to identify which sounds I want on that specific moment, considering the story that I had digested already.

Then, music normally starts on a normal practice day at the piano, where I would improvise chords, melodies, mostly modal passages that allow me

to explore sounds and to identify which one of them I want on a specific moment, considering the story that I had digested already.

Harmonically, The Cloud uses selected partials of the Harmonic Series as it harmonic core.

The chords, that came from the improvisation at the piano, are then linked to a Harmonic Series by organising the chord notes into partials. Sometimes, there will be a note in the chord that does not belong to the Harmonic Series, but if the chord functions with that note, then it should not be changed.

After this, it is possible to play around with them: transposing the chords, inverting them and playing with their pitch - moving the highest note to the lowest of the chord will change its sonic result.

Rhythm has been so far stablished by the voice, I have found myself recording in my phone passages of the script, and afterwards, exploring different rhythmic possibilities and starting to developing them into the quartet as a melodies or countermelodies. The idea behind the rhythm is to make it as organic as possible, so it feels that the voice and the quartet are both in the same rhythmic world.  "Cats Out The Cradle", for example, uses long notes for verse 1 and verse 2, then in the bridge semiquavers and the chorus is based in triplets - the same rhythmic material is also used in other songs. "Give It A Try", for example, uses more long notes in harmonics in the quartet and long, melodic gestures in the mid-low register of the voice.

However, when writing for baritone and string quartet, for such a long period of time, one has to think about variety vs monotony. In "Look At'Em", for example, the quartet and the baritone are in different rhythmic worlds. The quartet writing of this movement is based in short notes, fast gestures in jeté, ricochet, speech and onomatopoeias, but also recycle some of the material from "Cats Out The Cradle" and materials from "Give It A Try".

NEXT

The song cycle is divided in 3 parts. Part 1, with "Narration pt. 1 (Protest Song)", "Cats Out The Cradle", "Give It A Try", "Look At'Em" "It Just Won't Be Done!" and "You Are Welcome" was completed in March 2024. Part 2, with "Heirs And Graces", "No One Noticed", "Narration pt. 2", "A Quick Cigarette to Steady my Nerves" and "On a Bridge" is on the go, with only one song to finish by the early June 2024. After concluding Part 2, early June,I will start writing Part 3, which include "The Bloody King", "Put On Your Face", "In a Little Room", "Pomp and Odd Circumstances" and "Narration pt. 3".

 

The goal is to finish the song cycle by the end of June 2024.

Let’s Work Together

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