In sole posuit (2022)

12 part vocal ensemble

with support by Dutch Performing Arts Fund

This work I composed for the ensemble AuditivVokal Dresden conducted by Olaf Katzer. In it I investigated possibilities to use overtone singing as an extension of the timbre palette for choral singing. I used results from Mark van Tongeren's PhD research, as well as my own previous experiences composing Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit (2019) for overtone singer Jan Heinke and his Stahlcello.

During the lockdown in the first months of 2021, I visited a nearby park every morning to witness the sunrise. Regardless of the weather conditions, this was an extraordinary experience every day: the unimaginable diversity of light and color shades, the initial silence that gradually led to beautiful bird concerts, the slow emergence of nature, and an increasing sense of connection with al this. As if every day I took my seat in the miraculous tent referred to in Psalm 19:

In sole posit tabernaculum suum. (In heaven God made a tent for the sun)

In Exodus 26, God also calls upon Moses to build a “tabernaculum.” He gives meticulous instructions for this. It is described in great detail how this meeting tent should be designed, with which material, which attributes should be placed in it, down to the fabrics of the priestly garments.

In the run-up to this piece I also became fascinated by the architecture of Dom Hans van der Laan; the harmony that speaks from the austere forms, which in his work also appears within all aspects of his buildings, the furniture, down to the clothing of the priests, through the application of the "Plastic Number" at all levels. In a similar way I have tried to apply this principle in the composition of In sole posuit. Van der Laan once said: 'A shoe is the transition between the soft foot and the hard ground. In this way a building is the transition between inside and outside.' By analogy you could say that the proportions that mark the shape of a piece of music unravelling within the course of time form the transition between different sound-spaces and ultimately between sound and silence.

Within these time spaces that I created by making calculations with the Plastic Number wordless vocal sounds develop. The absence of text on one hand has to do with the necessity of singing overtones using specific vowels in order to make them audible as much as possible. On the other hand I was looking for a wordless expression of the sometimes almost mystical experiences I had while beholding all those sunrises. In this work I have tried to recreate these experiences using timbre developments through the use of overtone vocals.

By dividing the ensemble into three quartets, preferably arranged around the audience, the listener is immersed, as it were, in the overall sound. Ideally, the work is performed in a space where the acoustics enhance this effect.

The piece moves, as it were, through different sound images. This often involves slow developments from harmony to harmony, in which the path is just as important as the arrival. It is precisely within these transitions, often in the form of slow glissandos, whether or not combined with static consonances, that the most interesting sound developments (interferences) will occur. Some parts are strictly prescribed in terms of both notes and the use of specific vowels, others have a freer character, in which the singers are asked to subtly contribute to the overall sound with their improvisation.
Overtones are sometimes precisely prescribed, as an extension and/or color variation of certain chords, while in other parts they will be the irrevocable result of vowel changes in the di
fferent voices in an unpredictable way.