Title I am less of myself
Date of composing November 2018
Genre aria for soprano solo and chamber ensemble (piccolo flute, oboe, Bb trumpet, percussion, piano)
Style contemporary, neo-baroque
Level of difficulty intermediate to advanced
Copyright © 2018 Natalia Pispini; Hazel Hall’s poem ‘Flash’ is on the public domain
Description, Text and Musical Structure
In D. Allegro con fuoco. The vocal work is based on a short poem ‘Flash’ written by an American poetess Hazel Hall (1886-1924) (the poem is on public domain). According to the source https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/flash, she was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and lived most of her life in Oregon. Overall, 3 books of her poetry were published: Curtains, Walkers, and Cry of Time.
I am less of myself and more of the sun;
The beat of life is wearing me
To an incomplete oblivion,
Yet not to the certain dignity
Of death. They cannot even die
Who have not lived.
The hungry jaws
Of space snap at my unlearned eye,
And time tears in my flesh like claws.
If I am not life’s, if I am not death’s,
Out of chaos I must re-reap
The burden of untasted breaths.
Who has not waked may not yet sleep.
The existential ideas of fighting with life hurdles, identifying yourself among the chaos and desire for new experiences have grasped my attention. For the music, I resolve it in a form of energetic baroque-like aria. The work has musical structure ABA1B1. ‘A’ sectors use contrapuntal technique of canon and imitations, polytonality and extended tonality, as well as baroque aria motivic formulas (the soprano part). In ‘B’ sectors (refrain), the quartal harmonies and milder natural modality dominate.
No extended technique is required. Flexibility in reading polytonal scores, good skills in quick switching between extreme pitch ranges (for the winds players) and good skills for playing contrast polyphonic texture (for the pianist) are necessary for the best performance of this composition. The percussion part can be played by one person if the xylophone sticks are applied to both the military drum and the tambourine mounted horizontally.
Watch and listen to the excerpt on my YouTube channel: