Octophonics

Stockhausen? Cage?? No, the first(?) composer to employ eight separate sound sources (octophonics) did it  somewhere around 1570! In his 40 part motet Spem in alium Thomas Tallis divides the voices into eight choirs of five singers each (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass); his writing – the passing of material from chorus to chorus –would […]

A veritable jeremiad

Ierusalem, Ierusalem convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum. [Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.] The Clerks of New College, Oxford; Edward Higginbottom, Tallis: Lamentations For some yet-to-be-fathomed reason there was a spate of settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah during the Tudor era; though, with state religion toggling back and forth between Catholicism and […]

Critical mass

Byrd: Mass for 3 voices Pro Arte Singers. Paul Hillier The opening of the Byrd 3-part mass. The composer produced three settings of the liturgical text: in four parts (published 1592-93); three parts (1593-94) and five parts (1594-95). Since Catholicism was proscribed under Elizabeth I, they seem to have been intended for single voice performance […]

Finale?

Having made the journey from the (relatively) straightforward major triad to the tonal saturation of the twelve-note chord. From w to w perhaps we can summon up enough courage to wonder about the future of ‘art’ music. The jeremiads about ever decreasing audiences and the consequent financial problems of the music industry notwithstanding, there are […]