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Organum

for ensemble and electronics
Instrumentation:
0.1/cor.0.0 - 0.0.0.0 - sop sax/alto sax - 2perc - pf - 0.0.0.0.1 - electronics
Duration:
12'

The title makes reference to the works of the great master composers of Organum from the Notre Dame school in the 12th and 13th centuries, Pérotin and Leonin. While getting to know these beautiful vocal works, I came across the remarkable recordings of David Munrow on his disc Music of the Gothic Era, in which the cantus firmus or plainchant of the organum is frequently doubled with bells. While this practice is now considered historically dubious, it was of great inspiration to me in composing this work: the ensemble frequently intones melodic fragments in rhythmic unison and in parallel (or near-parallel) harmony, as if coalescing into a set of bells. The electronics likewise explore this idea even further. No literal quotation of either plainchant melody or the decorative upper voices of in Leonin and Perotin’s organa occurs in this piece, but frequent reference to their melodic style and rhythmic modes may be heard throughout.


Organum was commissioned by the Workers Union Ensemble with support from the PRS for Music Foundation.

 

Performances


9 November 2013 Workers Union Ensemble, LSO St. Lukes, London

November 2013 Workers Union Ensemble, Birmingham Conservatoire

28 October 2013 Workers Union Ensemble, Southampton

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