Author Topic: Seeking a text...  (Read 4546 times)

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The Mad Hatter

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Seeking a text...
« on: May 09, 2007, 01:15:27 AM »
I'm thinking of writing a piece for two singers. So far, their voices and styles are the only thing I have to go on, but I think - simply due to complete diametrical opposition - that their voices would sound great together.

The text I'm looking for should have two parts -one male and one female- and be somewhat fantastical in nature.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Offline Cato

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Re: Seeking a text...
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2007, 01:57:05 AM »
Dusting off and thumbing through my vast collection of obscura: Try an early English poet named Robert Herrick who wrote a poem in dialogue called A Dialogue Bewtwixt himself and Amarillis.  A minor 17th century poet named Andrew Marvell has a Dialogue between Body and Soul,

There is a good deal of Byzantine/Syrian poetry in dialogue form, especialy on religious themes: Joseph and Mary, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, etc.

I recall a Sylvia Plath poem - very depressing of course - called A Dialogue Between a Ghost and a Priest.

When I was a composer, I once had a series of songs in antiphony: one voice used an original text, the other a translation into another language of the same text.  But the music was in very different styles: if the original was e.g. an ancient Greek poem, I used a style evoking that era, but in the translation the music was "modern-sounding."

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)

The Mad Hatter

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Re: Seeking a text...
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2007, 02:35:04 AM »
Dusting off and thumbing through my vast collection of obscura: Try an early English poet named Robert Herrick who wrote a poem in dialogue called A Dialogue Bewtwixt himself and Amarillis.  A minor 17th century poet named Andrew Marvell has a Dialogue between Body and Soul,

There is a good deal of Byzantine/Syrian poetry in dialogue form, especialy on religious themes: Joseph and Mary, Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac, etc.

I recall a Sylvia Plath poem - very depressing of course - called A Dialogue Between a Ghost and a Priest.

When I was a composer, I once had a series of songs in antiphony: one voice used an original text, the other a translation into another language of the same text.  But the music was in very different styles: if the original was e.g. an ancient Greek poem, I used a style evoking that era, but in the translation the music was "modern-sounding."



Wow, thanks a lot. The Plath looks particularly appealing, just from the title, but I'll have a look at all of them.

Re: your compositions: do you mean a counterpoint of the original melody, and a newer melody of your own? Sounds very interesting - do you have any scores?

Offline Cato

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Re: Seeking a text...
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2007, 02:58:37 AM »
Wow, thanks a lot. The Plath looks particularly appealing, just from the title, but I'll have a look at all of them.

Re: your compositions: do you mean a counterpoint of the original melody, and a newer melody of your own? Sounds very interesting - do you have any scores?

The scores are no longer extant.

On the antiphonal aspect: your idea obviously would work.  My work used completely contrasting styles and melodies, but certainly you could play with inversions, theme and variations, etc. depending on the text: let the text guide your melodic ear, and you would not want to force the text into a certain pattern that is not natural to it.

One song however used the exact same notes in both singers, but the second singer sang everything in response about 3 times slower at the beginning.  As the song progressed, she became faster, and the other singer slowed down, so that by the end their roles had reversed.  Symbolically very nice for a love song duet.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

- Brian Aherne introducing Rosalind Russell in  My Sister Eileen (1942)