Thinking about the dissertation…
I tend to forget who knows me in real life (and has heard about this), and who doesn’t, but my dissertation is “a substantial piece or pieces” of music. (Thus sayeth the program sheet.) So I’m doing a set of pieces on the mysteries (only the original 15…luminous ones are optional, not gospel, and I hate how they break the symbolism of rosary as “little psalter,” since there are 150 Hail Marys and 150 psalms.) of the rosary. They’re not exact literal settings. If you’re familiar with Biber’s “Mystery” sonatas, it’s sort of like that. I’m not exactly sure how much of it I’ll talk about, and hopefully it won’t be necessary to understand them. (It’s more like one big poetic metaphor.)
I’ve got the last one done (the crowning of the BVM.) I should work on some of the Joyful ones, since that’s the season we’re in, but I’ve never been attracted to the joyful mysteries. Maybe it’s the insistence on the Holy Family as something perfect and saccharine, and as a model to those of us with broken families. That insistence of the Holy Family never seemed overly fair to them (I’m sure they had their fair share of squabbles and troubles like the rest of us), and isn’t overly fair to the rest of us (we aren’t fully human and fully divine, our fathers weren’t saints, and our mothers weren’t immaculately conceived.)
But I don’t want to go very far on the Glorious mysteries, because another facet of what I’m doing is exploring canonic technique. One thing I think that’s been lost in computer music is melody. I was listening to some early computer music out of Princeton, and what struck me was how musical it was, as if the composers were playing an instrument, not typing punchcards. (The music department there in the 1960’s and 1970’s gets much maligned…but oddly enough the students I know who were there write really great music.) I’ve always been a melodic composer, and I love counterpoint. So far I’ve got functions written to make any kind of conventional canon. I’ve got some more tricks up my sleeve for things computers are good at, but people aren’t. (Have I mentioned I like Nancarrow?)
And I don’t particularly want to do the sorrowful mysteries just yet, because the last big piece I finished was conceptually based upon the seven dolors chaplet. So logically it’s one of the Joyous mysteries I should be working on. I started the first one, but I don’t like it much.
The other thing that’s got me moderately stuck, is that I keep thinking about my recital. Most people these days don’t have the attention span for 75 minutes (in 15 pieces). I know…first things first, and write! (Local folks will probably hear more about said recital when it’s closer to happening…I’m shooting for next winter.)