On Desert Rose

On Desert Rose, for guitar quartet

Date of composing June 2017

Genre program Romantic piece, fantasy, musical poem

Style Neo-Romantic, Romantic, Arabic ethnic

Duration [11′]

Level of difficulty intermediate

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini   all rights reserved

Description

In D, Lontano. Lento sostenuto.  A program composition inspired by Arabian desert, its nature and culture, and based on the poem composed specifically for this music by Natalia Pispini.

In spring 2017, I received the suggestion from classical guitarist César Mora to compose a piece for his ensemble Cairo Guitar Collective based in Cairo, Egypt. The proposition was to compose music which would reflect Arabic elements. I liked the idea and the new challenge of composing for the guitar. Some years ago I have visited the National Museum in Riyadh where I was impressed by the desert rose, the rock formation with amazing scheme of rose petals (the photo of this rock is used in the image above). So, I thought of the desert like metaphor of death, loneliness, indifference, while the rose could symbolize life, love, expectations… Thus, the fabula, then the poem and the music were created.

Poem

ON  DESERT  ROSE

… no one can see her beauty

after the wind ’s soft blowing

the desert rose’s come to life at night

 

her unexpected beauty

 

and in the morning  – a breathless rock again

one has to guard another spring

as month shaban ’ll be coming

in hazy gleams of sickle moon hilal

guard as it ‘ll breeze from south …

 

Program plot can be described as following:

It had happened in a lonely desert. There was a stone desert rose. Once by night, in spring, in month shaban, under the crescent moon hilal, after the south wind the stone desert rose had become an alive flower. It revealed its shining beauty but nobody could see it in the desert at night. The morning and the sunrise came, and the rose became a stone again.

Musical themes

The main musical themes are those of

desert (mm.1-16),

night and loneliness (mm. 16-19, 28-39),

crescent moon (mm. 50-53),

south wind (mm. 63-66),

desert rose crystal stone (mm. 20-26),

desert rose as a beautiful flower (mm. 112-127),

morning light of the sunrise (mm. 156-169).

Musical structure

The musical structure is a long Romantic program piece with 4 major sections:

Introduction (Lontano) It’s like the beginning of a fairy-tale. Refers to the place of the story, the Arabian desert.

Exposition (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso. Con moto etc., letters A-B) shows the initial situation (it is night in the desert, there is a stone rose, and the crescent moon is on the sky, and the south wind is blowing).

Middle Section (Meno mosso. Più mosso etc., letters C-D) describes how the stone rose became an alive flower, and show its beauty.

Final Section (Lento sostenuto. Lento arioso, letters E-F-G) reminds about the desert, night and loneliness, and leads to the end of the story (the morning is coming with the sunrise, and the rose becomes a stone again).

Arabic influence

When composing this music, the particular elements of Arabic music were used.

Sometimes the texture is affected by the Arabic oud playing manners.

There are so called ‘arabesques’ ornamenting the melody.

Finally, the Arabic maqams are represented:

Hijaz (themes of desert, night and loneliness),

Saba (theme of the stone desert rose),

Bayati (theme of moon),

Huzam (themes of the wind and the rose flower).

These maqams are interpreted as elements of Romantic / Neo-Romantic music style.

Performance notes

All the tempo changes are suggested by the composer and can be revised or omitted by the musicians according to their taste and professional level. Since the music has a character of a fantasy / fairy story, it’s tempo rubato can be played in various ways.

View the score sample

Listen to MIDI excerpt on YouTube

 

The Gods of Old are Silent, on Lord Byron’s poem

For a long time I wanted to compose a choral work with English lyrics but related to Greece. Among the first things there was Lord Byron’s philhellenism that came to my mind, and after searching I found one of his poems, a passage which is practically unknown. It looks rather like an unfinished draft, but the more I was reading it, the more impact it had on me. At once, this rough but yet genius fragment had given to me what I was seeking for: a retrospective view where great Greek mythology, history and spirit of freedom would be condensed just in few lines. Thus I’d made my choice. The choral song is easy to perform, it has only two choral parts (soprano-alto and tenor-bass). The flute pastoral solo (reference to ‘the mighty Pan’) had been added to the classical chorus+piano ensemble as an option.

Structure and technique

The song is in C major, Con moto e narrante. The lyrics are Lord Byron’s passage from his unfinished poem ‘Aristomenes’ written in Cephalonia island in September 1823, shortly after his arriving to Greece to help the Greek people in the liberation:

The Gods of old are silent on the shore.
Since the great Pan expired, and through the roar
Of the Ionian waters broke a dread
Voice which proclaimed “the Mighty Pan is dead.”
How much died with him! false or true—the dream
Was beautiful which peopled every stream
With more than finny tenants, and adorned
The woods and waters with coy nymphs that scorned
Pursuing Deities, or in the embrace
Of gods brought forth the high heroic race
Whose names are on the hills and o’er the seas.

The musical form is free and reflects the text. Natural modes have been chosen as the appropriate for the solemn, epic character of the piece. The phrases are evenly distributed between female and male voices to provide the easiness of singing of choral texture, and that makes the work suitable for amateur singers (while the piano and the flute parts should be considered of intermediate level of difficulty).

Performance notes

The performance is expected to move in moderate tempo and strict, stable rhythm. The flute part is optional and can be omitted.

Date of composing March 2017

Genre choral song for mixed 2-parts chorus, piano and flute

Language English

Style Neo-Romantic

Duration [2’20”]

Level of difficulty beginner or amateur chorus

Copyrights music: © 2017 Natalia Pispini; George Gordon Byron’s poem ‘Aristomenes’ from public domain (https://en.wikisource.org)

Look at the score sample

Listen to the MIDI-rendering on YouTube

Purchase the escore on Etsy 

Purchase the escore on Sheetmusicplus

This work had its first performance on June 24, 2017, in Orestiada, Greece. read more…

 

…that is why the white bird is hiding from people…

That is why the white bird is hiding from people

It was difficult to take a photo of this enigmatic white bird sitting quietly among the palm-tree leaves. But eventually we got it! We walked inside of Bahrain, in province, where there are plenty of whispering palm-trees and joyful birds. It was winter, the best season there…

The image had inspired me for new genre: an improvisation on MIDI-keyboard. Each would employ particular timbres, rhythms, melodic patterns etc. Here it is solo flute and Arabic maqam Bayati, interpreted in free, non-traditional way. Great exercise! Also great way to give the second birth to those numerous photos collected during our trips.

Title …that is why the white bird is hiding from people…

Genre improvisation (live playing on MIDI-keyboard)

Tasks flute; non-traditional approach to maqam Bayati; expression of anxious and shy character

Duration [2’06]

Date of creating April 30, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Natalia Pispini; CC BY-NC license (for non-commercial use)

(Raw score is available on demand. Also you can order the music of similar style from Natalia)

Watch on YouTube