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Help with text please

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Help with text please

Postby RobertB4170 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:57 am

Hi Folks,
I am creating a polyphonic setting of a text for S.A.T.B. a cappella choir.
The original English text is

"The Past provides; we give thanks.
The present lives; we give thanks.
The future has hope; we give thanks."

The Latin translation that I am working with is,

"In praeteritis cavetur; gratias agimus.
In vitae nunc; gratias agimus.
Spes in futuro; gratias agimus."

Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Robert B
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Re: Help with text please

Postby RobertB4170 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:02 pm

Hello Folks,

Realised I wasn't to polite just jumping in and asking for help.
Let me introduce myself, I am Robert Burrell, Australian, working in Malaysia.
I am in the music faculty of UPSI. Here we try to introduce the students to repertoire that is beyond their normal sphere ... however, it being an Islamic country, the students aren't to sing sacred christian text, so I have composed a few works (in late-romantic style) in Malay using Sufi text and I am currently developing this setting of a Latin text for a renaissance polyphonic work. However, I am not sure about the translation, hence my asking for assistance.
Cheers, Robert
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Re: Help with text please

Postby Qimmik » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:48 am

Why not set a Persian Sufi text in the style of Palestrina? Now that would be way cool!

But you would probably want more dissonance. How about the style of Gesualdo's madrigals? OK, so Gesualdo is too Wagnerian. How about the style of Josquin or Lasso?

Seriously, the problem with translating your English text into Latin is that it expresses 20th century sentiments. In another thread, Miguel gave you good translations, but they just don't feel like anything anyone would write in Latin, either in the Roman period or in the 16th century.

If you want real Latin, you could set a short poem by Horace that doesn't have pagan or religious connotations, such as Persicos odi.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text;jsessionid=F8E9A8CB1527B87947AC503D87F7A4F4?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0024%3Abook%3D1%3Apoem%3D38

But a genuine Sufi text might resonate with your students. And why not set it in the style of Palestrina?

Salomone Rossi set Hebrew texts in Renaissance polyphony. Why not Persian?

Think about it. You would be the first person ever to do such a thing.
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Re: Help with text please

Postby RobertB4170 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:55 am

Hi Qimmik,

Yes, you are right ... if you would like to hear how the work is shaping up you can hear it at:
https://soundcloud.com/robertburrell/in ... is-cavetur
I will have to re-set the text, but that is no problem.
It is not Palestrina ... but I am happy with how it is shaping up. There is some influence from the English Tudor school.

Cheers, Robert.
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Re: Help with text please

Postby Qimmik » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:18 pm

I listened to [In praeteritis cavetur]. Beautiful. I thought I heard a bit of dissonance that I wouldn't hear in Palestrina, maybe some Tudoresque cross-relationships, and I also think I heard things that couldn't have been written in the 16th century--not obtrusive, but it lent an interesting element to the music. You can't turn your back on everything that has happened since then. I'll listen to your other pieces when I get a chance.

By the way the verb caveo means "to beware of." I think Miguel's Latin translation is good, but as I mentioned, it doesn't seem like thoughts that would be expressed in Latin.

Thanks for sharing!

Bill
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Re: Help with text please

Postby MiguelM » Fri Dec 27, 2013 4:31 pm

Having read Qimmik's post I do agree with him. You might be onto something here. I do have some problems with the notion of "thoughts that wouldn't be expressed" in a language that has a life-span of at least 2200 years :wink: — after all, there are Latin settings up until today, and no ancient needs to come and rubber-stamp them. However, it is indeed the fact that if you're going to evoke Renassaince polyphony (I mean, if your goal isn't simply 'to set a Latin text to music'), then the words you proposed and my translation are going to be rather off. I second Horace's poem, it's something Renaissance composers did all the time (take a look at this one for Vergil).

Also, Qimmik, this Salomone Rossi stuff is amazing! Thanks a lot! We should have a music thread.
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Re: Help with text please

Postby RobertB4170 » Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:49 am

Hi Folks,

Glad you liked the music. I am trying to marry the 'process-relational philosophy's' notion of reality to an art form. The notion in its' simplest expression is that the only reality is the present. The future does not exist and neither does the past, however, the past influences the present and the actions of the present contribute to the future. The future is not set in stone and hence carries the potential for new entities and actualities to come into being; therefore the future is full of potentiality, hope.

The concept is important to me and I wish to express it in music. It is a simple idea, but difficult to express without becoming cumbersome. I had tried to distil it to a few words. I had hoped that Latin may have been a better way of expressing it.

I used polyphonic voices to meet a need here at the university, but to also create something that the students would identify with, responding to its beauty. Polyphony and counterpoint are not a part of their traditional culture or main-stream commercial music ... in short it's as 'rare as rocking-horse poo'. They love it when they hear and perform it, so I'm trying to stir their interest.

With regards to the cross-relations and non-palestrina dissonances, you are right on the money ... I am impressed. They can be justified as being the product of a postmodern sensibility that respects and knows the rules of species counterpoint, yet allows for the subjective individual voice.

Cheers, Robert B
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