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Winter canticle : a song cycle

by Keith Harrison and Ron Nagorcka (2011)

Work Overview

The piece uses a "7-limit" just intonation scale (i.e. as well as untempered 5ths, 3rds etc. it uses intervals based on the 7th harmonic), and the electronic keyboard part is deliberately designed to guide the performers in the harmonies which are largely very concordant - especially in verse 4 ("When we come home") which is a deliberate attempt to introduce just intonation to any competent choir.

Each of the 4 verses may be performed separately. This especially applies to verse 4. Each verse (as well as the whole cycle) has been registered separately with APRA.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: Four solo voices (tenor, bass, contralto and baritone), SATB choir, cello and midi keyboard.

Duration: 16 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Difficulty varies with each verse. All movements are in just intonation and use an unfamiliar accidental notation. Verse 4 is deliberately easier (4/4 time, easy harmonies)

Contents note: 1. Red fox -- 2. Tanker -- 3. Zoë -- 4. When we come home.

Commission note: Commissioned by Keith Harrison.. Commissioned by Keith Harrison who wrote the text, and collaborated on the music

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:

The strongest influence is the well-developed just intonation movement in the USA ( Harry Partch, Ben Johnston, Lou Harrison). More widely, despite the unfamiliar intonation, this is a strongly harmonic work in the Western tradition.

There are 4 "verses" (i.e. movements.) All require violoncello and a midi keyboard which controls a computer audio program (stereo playback). Additionally verse 1 requires a tenor solo, verse 2 a bass solo, verse 3 a contralto solo, and verse 4 a baritone solo with an SATB chorus. 

All verses (but especially verse 4, titled "When we come home") may be performed separately.


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