Circles for female voice, harp and two percussion players Texts by e. Music is never pure: it is attitude: it is theatre. It is indivisible from its gestures. The task is to entrust the sense of the musical action to the specific abilities of the protagonists, to give them the possibility of defining for themselves the conditions through which eventuality is transformed into reality, before the eyes of the listener, in the hearing of the viewer. In Circles the possibilities are enlarged by the presence of the words, Nos.
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Text and Music in Luciano Berio's Circles. David Evan Jones. At critical points of change in the evolution of musical languages, text and approaches to text-setting are often given a structural importance they do not have when the syntax of the musical sound itself is more self-evident.
Monteverdi's text-dependent use of dissonance in the secunda prattica and the text-driven structures of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire are only the most obvious examples. It is notable as one of the earliest and most successful uses of proportional notation, in the unprecedented orchestration and notation of the elaborate arrays of percussion, and - most importantly for the current study - for the authority granted to text over the timbral , gestural , and structural organization of the piece.
I have chosen to examine the first half of the second movement - bars 1 to 26 - to illustrate some of the text-setting techniques Berio employs. The structure of the passage is diagrammed in Figure 1. The text falls into three phrases, each of which is framed in one of the three diagrammed phrases. These sforzandi thus articulate boundaries of activity - and the phrase-structure of the piece.
In the first phrase, for example, the C-sharp does not occur in the voice until the end bar 6. See Figure 4. Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4. In phrase two, the C-sharp occurs at the beginning, middle, and end of the vocal line. Figure 5 In phrase three, the voice again avoids the C-sharp until the climax on morte near the end of the phrase. Figure 6 Thus the first and third phrases of the vocal line and the introduction and interlude share the common feature of moving to the tonal reference point.
The symmetrical appearances of the C-sharp in the central second phrase gives , in turn, a certain symmetry to the pitch structure of the passage as a whole. Figure 5. Figure 6. The final appearance of C-sharp in the passage is in the melisma on the word morte in bar Morte can be seen as the climax of the movement for several reasons.
In Figure 1, it can be seen to coincide with two structurally important moments in the percussion parts: 1 The same percussion gesture which introduced the second movement bar 1 serves as an anacrusis to the presentation of morte. This is the first recurrence of this gesture.
Up to this point, all sforzandi since the first bar 2 have been articulated by pairs of instruments and never as a tutti unison. Setting the Sound of the Text. The organization of the sforzandi , the fermatas, and the recurring tonal reference serve as a structural frame for a continuous interaction of the text and music throughout the movement.
There are the traditional devices of word-painting: Tomb in measure 5 is sung on the lowest vocal pitch in the passage. Rain in measure 13 could be said to be represented by the instrumental trills. The dying downward glissando of morte is unmistakable. Of more immediate interest, however, are the extrapolations from the speech sounds in the text to the timbre and figuration in the instrumental parts. The vocal part occasionally adopts a " detache " style which prevents us from tracking the voice from one pitch and one speech sound to another as easily as we might.
Figure 7. Another striking example of these pseudo-consonants which abound in this movement occurs on the rolled r of the word morte. The rolled r in the voice is extended durationally and by timbral extrapolation by a woodblock roll in percussion I see Figure 8. Figure 8. Coming as it does at the climactic moment of the movement, this overlap between speech the rolled r and non-speech the woodblock roll calls to mind the predominant percussion and harp figuration of the movement: trills.
Morte , therefore, serves not only as the dramatic and structural climax of the movement, but as the source of the movement's characteristic instrumental figuration as well. Berio thus draws upon all aspects of the text - from the syntax of the phrases to the details of the speech sound - to structure this passage. There can be little doubt, in this context, that his careful attention to the timbres of the text are inspired by the aesthetic of the author of these poems: e.
Structure The structure of the passage is diagrammed in Figure 1. Setting the Sound of the Text The organization of the sforzandi , the fermatas, and the recurring tonal reference serve as a structural frame for a continuous interaction of the text and music throughout the movement. Figure 8 Coming as it does at the climactic moment of the movement, this overlap between speech the rolled r and non-speech the woodblock roll calls to mind the predominant percussion and harp figuration of the movement: trills.
Circles (programme note)
Despite the problems caused by the Corona-virus our Webshop and the contact forms on our website are fully available. You may also address your inquiries to customer-relations universaledition. Thank you for your understanding if our answer takes longer as usual because of the current restrictions. Your Universal Edition Team. Circles , commissioned by the Fromm Foundation, was composed in and first performed in August of that same year during the Berkshire Music Festival by Cathy Berberian and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Luciano Berio: Circles
Circles is a composition for female voice, harp and two percussionists by the Italian composer Luciano Berio. Written in Circles is a setting of three poems by E. Circles was written for Berio's wife, the American mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian. The work followed by two years the landmark composition Thema Omaggio a Joyce in which Berio deconstructed Berberian's voice through the use of innovative electronic manipulation.