Sat Jan 5 11:31:01 2013

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Fri Jan 25 10:05:11 2013

Fri Jan 25 10:10:10 2013

Tue Feb 12 14:01:03 2013

As usual, following the best models.


«  ... the skeleton of opera: set pieces, da capo, etc...

An opera is something like "The Marriage of Figaro" : it has set pieces, where time stops and music is essential, connected by recitatives, where music is not too important, and the action develops. If it is "Figaro" , then it also has many wonderful scenes where music is essential, and the words are essential, and the action develops. But this situation may well be limited to "Figaro" and "Don Giovanni", and really not be expected when opera is mentioned.

Obviously, no realism is ever needed. The medium itself is non-realistic: who ever goes around singing instead af talking? Besides, good music projects strongly and nobly, even with silly words or sillier plots; no such artistic effect in real life. All forms of art serve as an antidote to reality, but opera passages with good music overriding bad librettos are as far from commonplace reality as you can get : you are seeing the fat lady singing, and hearing unintelligible claptrap, and feeling sublime.

Now, what if the libretto is by Shakespeare? Words must be paramount, always; set pieces with dacapo are rarely available; here and there there may be strophic songs, but a music that matches the text... or even fits the text... Technically, such a music will stay forever in iambic/trochaic rhythm, because such is the versification – may get quite boring. Then the complications of English stress rhythm (or sprung rhythm). How to force all this into musical phrases, answering to each other...

In any case, I do not want to avoid set pieces, rather use them whenever possible – a clear example, the Cauldron scene, which may be evidently turned into a song with refrains.

Of course, I am not really inspired. Although I might have some musical ideas, I cannot implement them, except as programs to generate scores. Vocal scores? It would be too wonderful, although even the simplest text-to-sound programs allow adding a tone to the spoken word or syllable. But just imagine how lost I am in vocal interpretation , plus the abilities of human voice vs the computer. So it will stay as purely conceptual art.

So, without inspiration, what could I do?

«  vocal interpretation

I don't, in principle, like vocal music. Both word and music are potent artistic media, and in combination usually at each other's throat ( counterexamples : Non piu andrai , Sempre libera, Pres des remparts de Seville ) In general I cannot understand sung words, and when I do, what a disappointment it usually is!

Besides, voice actually carries feeling, while instruments don't (although instrumental music does, and how! How it does this is actually the crux of the matter, and if I got even an inch nearer to the answer, I would consider my life well spent) But anyway, I have no idea about interpretation on the equanimous instruments, and no idea about instrumental virtuosity, so what are the chances in the charged vocal medium?

«  ... my musical ideas ... only as programs to generate scores.

This is exactly the problem. I cannot quickly experiment, by tinkling at the piano, or jotting down notes and hearing them in my mind (any?) The only way to experiment is by computer, so I can produce (actually very fast, once the program is ready) enough versions to select something I like.

However, I cannot combine midi, which I use for instrumental music, with text-to-sound, even less with text-to-sound in several voices. Who knows, maybe some Java monster... Or, maybe, had we but world enough and time, there will appear a sophisticated tool to encode and sound orchestra and singing at once ( it must also be freeware. )

«  If that could convert Shakespeare's gems, e.g. "foul and fair", "no man of woman born", into musical motifs...

I should have said appropriate opera motifs , that is, somehow fitting the meaning of the words, and also memorable or at least recognizable. Of course, I have no idea how to do that. On the other hand, we were talking about formal compsition; "the notes repeat when the text repeats" is a very simple goal, which, alas, will pass unobserved by the audience.

«  counterexamples : music actually enhances text

To me, the most outstanding is Che gelida manina:

Chi son? Son un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo.
E come vivo? Vivo.
The setting of these lines is a masterpiece, although it shouldn't:
And yet... How did Puccini get the tune for the last Vivo, dramatically true and musically perfect?

Then, again, this is my opinion. I am curious if anybody agrees – I'll remain curious.