My current piece is a work for narrator and violin, the text more or less decided some time ago but the setting only just begun. I have been cramming in my work for the Anghiari Festival over the past month, so this is my project for the next week or so.
Rather than work on both parts simultaneously I am going about the setting of the voice part first, mapping out rhythms and rough pitches so that the speaker has a decent idea of what I would like. The idea is that the violin’s music will be triggered by certain rhythms and inflections in the voice and reshape them as music.
What I have decided to do is to notate the vocal part on five lines, the rhythms more or less precisely defined but the pitches left relative to each other. On the same line means the same pitch, one line up is a slightly higher inflection, while two lines up is something more contrasting.
I will be interested to hear how this shakes out. The narrator for whom this piece is designed has a well known voice, one that, over lunch, I found to be full of rich tones and colours, so from the start of these ideas I have wanted to treat it as an instrument.
Interestingly, the voice looks as though it will inhabit a lower range than the violin, which will be the descant instrument, for want of a better term. Composition and commissions are always throwing out new challenges, and that is one of the factors that makes this aspect of the profession so enjoyable and fascinating.