Fructus Ex Semine (Fruit from the seed) : Of scholars and scribes
by Karen Lemon (2015)
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I composed this piece as an engagement with the research being undertaken by the ERC-funded Old Hispanic Office Project based at the University of Bristol (UK). Musically, it takes note of the modal tetrachordal foundation of Old Hispanic chant, and in its mostly syllabic setting heeds the importance in the Office that the text be clearly understood. However, my engagement was more with the chant manuscripts themselves. I loved the tracks of the neumes, the colours of the ink, the texture of the parchment … And so I became fascinated with the work of the scribe. It seemed to me a tragedy that the notation system of Old Hispanic chant, campo aperto (open field), is the only musical notation widely practised at the time that is now indecipherable. The voice of the Old Hispanic chant scribe is today mute. And yet there are scholars who most admirably devote their life's work to the possibility of its being heard anew. So, the textual theme of my piece is, on the one hand, the scribes who write God's truth but are not understood, and on the other, the scholars who hold that truth in their hands but do not understand it (yet!).
Instrumentation: Double SATB choir.
Duration: 6 min.
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