containing the theoretical text with relevant excerpts from the scores and sound recordings
This song cycle I wrote for Ivo and Vania Stankov and they premiered it at the Sofia Music Weeks International Music Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. A number of London performances followed, and the studio recording submitted here was produced at the Bulgarian National Radio in Sofia.
The poems by Dora Gabe I chose for their touching lyricism and for a certain spiritual quality, which is expressed in a very subtle way. My English translation provided with the printed score is of a rather poor quality, as I am not a poet, and cannot convey the very special poetic features of the verse in the translation. I provide it only as guidance to the general meaning of the text, although as a composer, what I find most important are the subtle details that I am not able to translate properly.
The songs were through-composed and in the music I aimed to give a personal response to the text, as immediate and natural as possible. Very often the musical emphasis is on atmosphere and feeling, and texturally the work is composed of two lines, albeit with many variations and colorations. It exhibits my preoccupation with ‘melody’ as an aesthetic ideal, which is particularly evident in this work, as well as in The Sacred Flight and A Seasong, although it is also pertinent in varying degrees to most other works in this thesis. In Three Songs..., the two intertwined melodies have their individual melodic contours interacting freely, while their harmony is organised horizontally in the context of morphing modality and texture described in the previous chapters. That is the main framework of principles which connects the lines in a holistic entity in this composition as well, although there are a few exceptions of an increased importance of certain verticals/dyads, which is particular to this work only, and which I will discuss below.
There are also certain differences in the nature of the background morphomodal network, in comparison to The Mirror and other earlier works. Here follows an example from the first song:
Figure 19: Three Songs... b.31-40, with pitch reduction.
(NB. In some occasions I respell accidentals enharmonically in order to provide a greater convenience in reading for the players, as in the last notes in this excerpt – d flat = c sharp. That is valid throughout all works, and sometimes involves respelling the augmented seconds as minor thirds when appearing in peculiar pitch combinations.)
In the first five bars in Figure 19 the modal network spans a third only, widening to a fifth later on. Larger pitch collections are not excluded generally, as in the fifth or ninth bar, but there is an increased flexibility in this aspect, compared to The Mirror. In that opera, which was written about a year earlier, the pitch collections in most cases span a full octave, while the modal network is iterated in octave-repeating cycles to account for the complete span of the music. This kind of harmonic saturation was necessitated by the massive and often ‘overwhelming’ sonorities that I pursued in the opera, in response to particular qualities that I perceived in the libretto. Furthermore, it can be observed that in The Mirror the lines and other elements that constitute the texture often develop in a way that the full 7(8)-pitch field is covered as soon as possible after each change in the morphomodal network, which produces something akin to a ‘modal serialism’. In the context of those dense textures, a certain combination of stability and richness to the modal cluster-harmony is thus provided, which further contributes to the ‘overwhelming’ quality pursued in the dramatic context of the opera. Although I did not feel technically limited in that, as far as that opera is concerned, I realized that in works of different nature I might need a different kind of flexibility, which would involve a greater economy in the nature of the pitch collections.112 (click) The inspiration for the solution came from a fascinating source.