Organ, c. 6’ 00”
This piece is a chorale prelude on the “Veni Creator” plainsong, but reimagined as a hymn tune, as can be heard in full at the end of the piece. In a number of my recent pieces, I have been inspired by American “Shape Note” singing, which is a large part of the history of sacred music in the United States. In many ways, Shape Note tunes (which are catalogued in the Sacred Harp songbook) are often almost indistinguishable from traditional hymns, but there are voice leading and harmonic quirks which arise from the differences in musical education between different authors. This results in a mix of quartal and third-based harmonies, dorian mode “ficta,” and unusual cadences centring around perfect intervals reminiscent of earlier music and striking when combined with the performance style. I harmonized and metered the plainsong as if it were a shape note tune and took that as my starting point. The opening is a meditation on the underpinning chord progression designed to allow the organist ample time and space to shape the passage with changes in registration, and the rest of the piece uses counterpoint also inspired by Shape Note “fuging” tunes.
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