Glossolalia for asynchronous voices, winds, and percussion with electronic sound
An Innovative Concept for Hybrid Performances
I am very excited to introduce a new conceptual work designed to meet the challenges of performing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I hope that not only will these restrictions be met, but also a new listening and performing experience will be created in the process. The ultimate goal is to empower conductors and performers to leverage technology as a means of artistic expression.
Programmatic and Thematic Elements
Glossolalia is the phenomenon often called “speaking in tongues” which is associated with multiple religious faiths and traditions since at least the middle ages. In many cases, practitioners believe they are communicating in a divine language that demonstrates a profound connection to the supernatural. Speaking in tongues is particularly important to Southern Pentacostal traditions where the practice has been described as “singing in the spirit.” Glossolalia has also been connected to the myth of the Tower of Babel when God splintered the ancient common tongue into many hundreds of new forms and that glossolalia is in fact a return to this pre-Babel language. The sacred music writer Donald Hustard depicted the experience as follows: “It is as if the strings of a huge Aeolian harp have been set in motion by the wind of the Holy Spirit. The strangely-beautiful sound rises in volume, lasts for a longer or shorter period, and then gradually dies away."
Inspired by the works of Reich, Caroline Shaw, Berio, Colgrass, Ives, John Luther Adams, Ligeti, and Zappa among others, this composition attempts to invoke the heightened emotional state of “angelic tongues” through a combination of digital and live performers. Thematically, the work also deals with how information is fragmented, distorted, and manipulated through modern technology. Composed for two ensembles performing asynchronously, the piece combines aleatoric and traditional notation, spectral techniques, granular synthesis, and spatial mapping to create a symphonic palette from a variable sized ensemble.
Scope, Medium, and Other Performance Details
Duration: ca. 9-12 minutes Difficulty: Grade 5+ for winds and percussion; advanced high school or early collegiate for voices The work will be composed in three interdependent layers:
Live performers with conductor
Multitrack ensemble of performers with video conductor
Digital soundscape triggered using Ableton Live
Instrumentation for Multitrack Ensemble
SATB Voices - Four or more singers creating sixteen separate vocal parts