More Moro Lasso Loops (2013)

available from the composer

duration ca. 7:00

 

Instrumentation

for fixed media, version for video with video by Jamsen Law

 

Program note

In 1590 Carlo Gesualdo, prince of Venosa and composer, lutenist, guitarist and harpischordist, murdered his wife and her lover, and possibly a newborn child who might have been his own son.  Before the murder, Gesualdo had been a talented but unexceptional composer who published four books of madrigals.  He had originally been destined for the clergy but unexpectedly inherited the principality after the untimely death of his brother.  Gesualdo’s wife had been unfaithful him for years, and when he learned of the infidelity, Gesualdo schemed with his servants to catch them and brutally slaughter them in his own bed.  The horror of his act apparently drove Gesualdo into a deep depression bordering on insanity, and he withdrew from the world, flagellating himself in his lonely castle.  After 20 years he published two more books of madrigals, full of strange chromatic harmony and wild melodic writing far beyond anything known before.  The texts, mostly written by Gesualdo himself are full of torment, with constant pairings of love and death, ecstasy and agony.

 

Moro, lasso, al mio duolo

E chi mi può dar vita,

Ahi, che m'ancide e non vuol darmi aita!

O dolorosa sorte,

Chi dar vita i può, ahi, mi dà morte!

 

I die! Languishing, of grief,

and the person who can give me life,

alas, kills me and does not want to give me aid.

O woeful fate!

That the one who can give me life, alas, gives me death!

 

To create this work, I’ve recorded the five parts separately, then employed a technique of massive replication and time=shifting so that each subsequent replication is offset from previous ones by intervals from microseconds—less than half a wavelength of a single sound—to entire beats.  The result is transformative, and yet not entirely dark, as though the possibility of redemption and reconciliation still remains.

Christopher Coleman

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