Lasse Thoresen: “Diphonie II: Threads of Remembrance” (Op. 39, No. 2) for Vocal Sextet
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In 2006 the first Diphonie was written as part of the Concrescence Project—a project where I started to merge approaches from different cultures with the Western singer’s voice. Diphonie is the French word for singing two pitches simultaneously—a fundamental and a harmonic.
For a long time I had planned to write more diphonies—but an occasion to do so didn’t arise for another 15 years when Nordic Voices commissioned a new set of Diphonies, with the financial support of Arts Council Norway. The pieces may be performed singularly or together in any order the performers might consider to be effective.
Diphonie II explores a particular set of harmonics, which can be represented in its compact form in the harmonic series by the following ratios: 6:7:8—and in addition to these the 9th harmonic is also often added. The seventh harmonic deviates from the ‘normal’ (12TET) by approximately 30 cents. It occurs in the context of a ‘perfect’ interval: the fourth. I wanted to see if the triad 6:7:8 might be able to replace the major triad (3:4:5) as a consonant chordal sonority; accordingly, the 5th harmonic is excluded from this tonal language (as it was also in Diphonie I).
There is no text for the piece; syllables have been freely chosen for musical reasons and for their evocative qualities. Similar melodic motifs are often given the same syllables. The texture of the piece is somewhere between a sound-web and polyphony. A sound-web is a particular sound-object in which single strata of sounds integrated in a texture emerge and disappear. Threads in the title refers to the strings of vowels that weave the web of the musical texture. The other word of the title—Remembrance—is defined as meaning (among other things) an act of recalling to mind.
While I was composing this Diphonie, Tran Quang Hai passed away. He played a crucial role in the Concrescence Project 2004–06. I have dedicated the piece to his memory.
Lasse Thoresen, January 2022
Commissioned by Nordic Voices supported by Arts Council Norway.
This edition is supported by the Norwegian Society of Composers.