Title: Sardinian Songbook

Year: 2018

Program note:

I fell in love with the remarkable singing of the Tenores di Bitti on hearing their recordings as a student. Their uniquely intense vocal timbre, their harmony which seemed pure and rough at once, and the sense that this music was, at root, not so much about performance as simply being together in the world, in a community of spirit. At the time I had no intention of using this music to my own creative ends, but now, here we are: Sardinian Songbook is the second in a cycle of works for the Ligeti Quartet, all based on transcriptions of music from different throat-singing traditions. Like string quartets, the tenores usually sing in groups of four voices, but being free from instruments they stand very close together enabling the resonances of their voices to blend and interact in a special way. The quartet, of course, can only sit so close before their bows clash, so I have chosen instead to reflect this physical closeness inversely, by getting the players to stand increasingly far from one another as the piece progresses. In so doing, the initial state of sonic blend gives way to hocketing lines, opening up the sense of space.