Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mass, songs I composed

I composed some music!

Also, I engraved its sheet music. (Good-looking, if I say so myself. I would be happy to engrave anyone's music! Please email me [click my profile] for reasonable rates.)

The following are free of charge (with the Creative Commons license):

A mass setting in Latin. Its title is, `Missa Brevis, Thomas Young'; its subtitle, `In a Sequence of Chords Inspired by His Harpsichord Temperament No. 1 of 1799, For Choir of Four Parts, Unaccompanied' (with optional organ). (Opus 1: May 2010, improved December 2011.)

I attempted, with music, to express the emotions naturally present in the mass text (for a wide audience, not necessarily Christian).

PDF sheet music and MIDI are available. The movements are Antiphon (Asperges Me & Vidi Aquam--Latin & English), Kyrie (Sixfold & Ninefold), Gloria, Sanctus & Benedictus and Agnus Dei.

Two songs, both on Roman Catholic/Anglican/Episcopal Church Lectionary texts (in English) for the Feast of the Sacred Heart (among other occasions, or for general use). (Opus 2: June 2010, improved December 2011.)

My aim was to approximate the pitches of natural speech, as well as to express the emotion of the texts.

They are for alto solo with tenor solo accompaniment (and optional keyboard):

1. `Jesus Addressed' (from Lk. 15:3-5) with PDF sheet music and MIDI, with piano accompaniment and without.

2. `It Is Rare' (from Rom. 5:7-8) with PDF sheet music and MIDI, with piano accompaniment and without.

I improved the print layout of the songs December, 2011.

The mass setting was inspired by (and is an homage to) Young's 1799 system of well-temperament (Young #1, called `ideal' by Owen H. Jorgensen in his classic book Tuning of 1991). It follows his temperament order of major thirds (which have roots C G=F D=Bb A=Eb E=Ab B=Db Gb), with CE purest-sounding and GbBb (in a sense, farthest away) the least pure-sounding (albeit the mass was written for equal-temperament).

Thus the (mass's) overall sequence of chords is actually two simultaneous circles of fifths. You can see an annotation of the chords in the sheet music (their roots, as well as major or minor), revolving (usually) in both directions. The movements are thus unified, and I added harmonic coloration (and inversion) to make them enjoyable.

Here is how I devised the mass's chord roots, in order of composition:

The Kyrie sections (of the two Kyrie settings) revolve from C to Gb; the Christe sections are the reverse. (The Sixfold one was composed after Agnus Dei.)

The Sanctus & Benedictus setting (considered as a unit) offers Young's equalized third roots the other way: C F G Bb D Eb A Ab E Db B Gb.

In the Gloria setting, the entire circle of fourths first revolves upward (on major chords) feeling like classical resolution, then downward (with some text-appropriate, minor chords) feeling like Plagal hymn resolution.

In the Agnus Dei setting, two arcs of fifths intertwine, though one breaks order slightly (and is reversed): C G D A E B Gb and Ab Eb Bb F (Db). Thus there (emotionally) is a regular falling pattern: C Ab G Eb D Bb A F E Db B Gb. Interestingly, the last four match the (chord) roots of the Benedictus, which inspired me.

Young's equalized third roots are presented simultaneously in the Antiphon setting, which revolves from C to Gb then reverses.

To the Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei settings (previously Anglican chant: full-measure chords) I added rhythm (as well as improving the overall print layout) December, 2011.

Copyright (c) 2011 Mark D. Blackwell.