Time Sig: mostly 6/8
Parts: SATB with divisi in every part
Key: starts in A minor travels around a lot ends in G major.
Complexity level: high. (I write tonal music, it's not crazy but it's a pretty robust piece that would need good readers.)
This Gloria has been travelling with me for a very long time.
About fifteen years ago, I started writing choral and vocal art music. I first wrote this piece then as part of a six voice Mass and performed it during the Adelaide Fringe.
Recently I've been listening to the music I wrote during that time. I can hear two things - firstly what we might call an immature understanding of the craft. (There is so much craft to composing - what melodies want, what harmonies want, what phrases want, what sections want. How to write so the whole work is a compelling story. I imagine the exploration of this craft is a whole life thing.)
But secondly I hear something else. I hear my own voice as a composer. My own take on what the universe is saying. It's a relief to report that - I like it.
I largely stopped writing when I went to UQ and studied with the Kodaly greats there. Studying choral conducting meant I learnt how when great musicians bring great music to life, they profoundly inhabit the music, they seek the meaning of every note. I learnt how great musicians trust composers to write greatly. At that time, I learnt enough about music to feel pretty sure my compositions wouldn't provide the richness great musicians need. Sobering and humbled I quietly put my pen down!
Since that time, I've focused more on arranging. I've always had choirs on the go and probably like many of us, end up doing a lot of arranging for work. Arranging for community choirs has taught me so much, so very much, about what 'singable' means. Fifteen years of arranging for choirs and living with the results has changed my writing. It's intuitive for me now - a melody sings or it doesn't.
A few years after I first wrote it, I reset this Gloria for a quartet I had of four very bright, very gorgeous young women. Then reset it a few years later for an SATB quartet. I've been dabbling with it since, but I felt that I still hadn't found the song, that it was still coming.
Recently, in the last two years I suppose, my attitude to my own writing has changed. I don't feel as frozen by the greatness of others, or the dependence musicians have on their composers. I feel more like - just get on with it. That time and energy spent worrying could be better spent writing. A kind version of get over yourself.
So I'm writing seriously again. Older and wiser. The extraordinary thing is that I had an undiagnosed hormone imbalance for some time and was quite sick with this. It changed the way my brain works - I have become a much slower tempoed thinker. To my surprise this has given me the chance to slow down in my writing enough to think wisely about craft - how to craft my works to best bring out and share my take on what the universe is saying.
Over the last month I've come back to this Gloria and been working on it quite compulsively.
And then. late last night it was done.
I am planning a recording and concert soon with some beautiful singers to breathe life into my new phase of writing, featuring this Gloria. This Gloria that has come with me for so many years as we have both discovered who we are.