e_moon60 (e_moon60) wrote,

  • Music:


Palestrina, a Renaissance composer.  We sang Palestrina's "Super flumina Babilone" on Sunday.  It's haunting, intricate music, superficially simple with nothing more complicated than one sixteenth-note "fillip"....and rather slow, so the long notes are really long and the sixteenth notes aren't that short.   What makes it intricate is the interplay of the parts, and the things you can do with the individual notes...and the fact that it's modal, not in the modern key signatures. 

If  you just sing the notes (or play them on the piano) it's lovely...and yet a little...flat? blah?...no, nothing so dire, but still not what it can be if you really understand the music and what it calls for in performance.  What brings it to life is the kind of precision that our conductor demands of us--precision in every aspect of every note, all placed in service of the text, which we sang in Latin, of course.  Each section has to understand--each person in each section has to understand, and listen, and respond to the coloring every other section is providing. 

We rehearsed it "in numbers" first, to drive the tanctus, the basic beat, into our brains (because there are places it's easy to lose it here), and then moved to words, and then to shaping every vowel, every shade of volume and tone of every note...

We sang at the back of the church, arranged in a circle so we could clearly hear each other.   And it was...what it should be. 

It's my earworm until rehearsal tomorrow.  It's a good one.

Tags: choir, music
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