In depth Requiem – Libera me

In depth Requiem – Libera me

At the moment I’m working on a range of projects simultaneously, and not all are ones I can share with the wider world. This is one of the reasons for the frustrating lack of posts.

The Requiem is comprised of seven movements, only three of which are based on traditional requiem texts. This is obviously one, alongside the Introit and Lux Aeterna. The Libera Me was initially sketched out about half way through the sketching process, after the Introit and two other movements had been written (to varying degrees of completion!). Not all of the movements are written or scored in traditional manners, and thus I won’t be able to share all of them while they are technically still works in progress – but the Libera Me is one I can share!

A breakdown of the Libera Me

Predominantly in 7/8 (incidentally, one of my all time favourite time signatures), the piece begins with some orchestral stabs before the motif for “Libera me”  is heard pianissimo from the chorus (excerpt one on the SoundCloud file below). This one simple motif appears throughout the work, becoming more elaborate at each appearance.

The solo soprano then takes on the main text, accompanied by harp (and occasionally lower strings) with the chorus and other orchestral forces occasionally interrupting with the motif. The texture suddenly thickens with brass as we reach the words in die illa tremenda, before leading back to the motif/refrain – this time with a considerably thicker texture that grows as the words libera me are repeated.

After a short and thin woodwind-based break, we move into the second section of the soprano’s melody line (excerpt 2 in the Soundcloud file). This is accompanied by pizzicato strings and short quavers from the chorus and woodwind. The A section is then repeated in an instrumental form (excerpt 3), before we hear a version of both sections A and B combined – chorally at least – as the music builds up in tension. The Libera Me then returns (excerpt 4)s, developing to “Libera nos” as the texture gets thicker and thicker, before stopping abruptly.

As if from nowhere, a heavenly chorale for strings and chorus appears (based on the tremens section), before  the soprano’s final line in the coda: Libera me domine de morte aeterna.

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If only virtual instruments could portray the power and emotion behind this movement, but sadly it isn’t so. Nevertheless, hopefully the SoundCloud snippets below will give you a bit of an idea as to how this movement sounds.

Note: The file below is created using Sibelius Sounds and is intended to give an indication of the piece at its current stage of life and is not a final representation!

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Projects on the go

Alongside ongoing work on the Requiem, I have numerous other projects on the go, which will be shared as and when it’s possible! The next post I’ll be sharing with you later this week will outline work on a piece that is a completely different to the Requiem: A work for electric violin, bass clarinet, piano and electronics which features both synched and unsynched looping.

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