Suite is based on three Sonatas
by Domenico Scarlatti - Sonata in B Major L. 348, Sonata
in A Major L. 483, and Sonata in d minor L. 58. In
this work I did not want to alter the original musical text with
arbitrary interpolations or modifications, but rather to return
to its original premises - the harmonic progressions, the motivic
structure - in order to create new relations and gestures from
this same material.
Throughout the course of the work, the harpsichord remains faithful to the music of Scarlatti thereby serving both as a point of reference for the un-modified sound of the harpsichord and for the original musical material upon which the accompanying tape "collage" of Scarlatti's music is based.
The material of the tape is exclusively developed from the previously mentioned Sonatas (with the exception of a few seconds from a fourth sonata cited in the first movement). In this way the musique concrète elaboration of the material - through filtering, reverberation, speed changes, multi-playbacks, etc., - produced not only new, yet harpsichord-like sounds but, even more importantly, it created new yet "Scarlatti-like" musical ideas - an "amplification" of Scarlatti's original material in every sense of the word.
Suite was written in 1973 for the harpsichordist, Mariolina De Robertis.
The harpsichord is placed at center stage. The loudspeaker for Channel One is placed 10 to 15 feet from the keyboard (stage Right) and the loudspeaker for Channel Two is placed 10 to 15 feet from the tail (stage Left.) The two speakers should be slightly upstage of the amplified harpsichord in order to avoid feedback from the microphone used for amplifying the harpsichord.
AMPLIFICATION OF HARPSICHORD:
The sound of the amplified harpsichord is fed evenly to both speakers.
STEREO BALANCE OF TAPE:
To insure that
the proper stereo balance is being transmitted from the half-track
stereo tape (15.i.p.s.):
1. cue the tape at 7'50"
2. Playing from this point, check that the stereo image is coming directly from stage center (as if from the "live" harpsichord)
3. adjust the balance controls of the recorder if necessary to achieve this.
DYNAMIC BALANCE OF HARPSICHORD AND TAPE:
integration of the harpsichord and tape material is crucial. At
times the harpsichord is an unaccompanied soloist, at times the
harpsichord is accompanied by tape and, at other times, the tape
becomes the central protagonist completely submerging the harpsichord.
This alternation is intended to produce a somewhat dreamlike state
with "disembodied" musical material swirling about,
emerging and disappearing in waves of sound.
In order to establish the proper dynamic balance, one should:
1. Establish a comfortable level of amplification for the harpsichord
2. Cue the tape part at 0
3. Play the tape from 0 to the 35th second while also listening to the amplified harpsichord playing its material
4. Adjust the tape level so that the live harpsichord is the weight of one of the prerecorded lines of the tape texture.
Once this balance is correct, no further adjustment of the volume of either part is required.
HARPSICHORD and TAPE TUNING:
The tape part was elaborated with A = 440. If the live harpsichord is not in tune with the tape, the speed of the recorder must be adjusted accordingly.
Four dynamic levels are used to suggest the relative weights desired - p, mf, f, ff. The actual registration should be selected by the performer with regard to the instrument, the passage under consideration and the sounds, colorings and volume of the accompanying tape part.
Where the harpsichord music is particularly fragmented, one should use a great variety of different registrations in order to underscore this "fantasy world". In the latter section of the AIR, for example, each successive phrase should have a different color. Additionally the Bass and Soprano lines should be played on different manuals. On the other hand, in long passages of uninterrupted Scarlatti material, the performer should use the registration which is proper for that style.
SCORE OF TAPE PART:
The full tape part is NOT written out nor is a complete graphic equivalent attempted. Main lines and Events in the tape ARE indicated, however, so that the performer can visually control the progress of the tape and fit the solo material into the general texture.
for both the tape part and the harpsichord solo part are written
in the score. The timing for the first movement begins with the
first sound of the tape part which enters at the completion of
the opening harpsichord solo at the fifth brace, bottom of page
1. For rehearsal convenience, each of the three movements has
a separate timing (i.e. each movement begins again at 0' on a
stopwatch). This way it is simple to practice each piece separately
by cueing the tape at the appropriate spot and beginning a stopwatch.
During performance, however, the tape runs continuously. The performer may wish to use a stopwatch and reset it at the beginning of each movement, but this is most likely not necessary. In fact, once the performer is familiar with the tape part, the live synchronization can be done by ear.
RUNNING THE TAPE:
The front of the 15 i.p.s. tape is marked by a long green leader tape. The tape should be cued at the END of the green leader, immediately prior to the beginning of the short white leader tape. When the performer reaches the conclusion of the opening solo (page 1), the tape is started as indicated in the score. From here the tape runs without interruption until the end of the composition.
The three Scarlatti works used as a basis for SUITE are the Sonata in B Major, No. 348, Sonata in A Major, No. 483, and the Sonata (Gavotta) in d minor, No. 58.
Duration: ca. 12 minutes