The Hours (Eijkhout, Victor)
Papalin (recorder ensemble)
|Work Title||The Hours|
|Year/Date of Composition||2010-13|
|Average Duration||12 minutes|
|Composer Time Period||Modern|
"The Hours" is a (still growing) cycle of pieces based on the Canonical Hours. It is one of my attempts to come to terms with my Catholic upbringing, which right now is with me more in spirit than in actual practice. So this piece should be seen as spiritual, rather than directly religious.
Matins is the firsts prayer of the day, on the cusp between dark and dawn. So the music is very simple, just a single arc that rises up and comes down again. You can envision the sunrise if you want. Or nuns in a convent waking up and coming together for the first prayer, after which they go on their way for the duties of the day. Something about the texture of the piece. When I was writing this, I was experimenting with a "looper pedal": an electronic box that lets you put down successive layers sounds. The first 11 measures could be played by a single player with a looper. After that, the voices gradually abandon their strict repetition of a one or two measure pattern, but the whole piece still has this repeating characters. Almost like people repeating a mantra that gradually shifts in meaning, which is also a bit like a prayer.
None is the 3pm prayer, and, going more by the hour of the day than the actual prayer, this is the brightest sounding movement, using far higher pitched instruments than the other movements.
Vespers is inspired by the sound of a group of people praying. They all know the words, and it's the uttering of the phrases that counts, not that they are perfectly in sync. Some of the phrases also contains something like call-and-response. The phrases of this movement are loosely based on plainchant and are very modal. Thus, apart from one Bflat, the whole piece uses only "white keys".