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Intermezzi fragment

The piece Intermezzi for 8 voices (SSAATTBB) [15'30'] was written 2004,1 and has never been performed. Through studies of phonetics (IPA),2 descriptions of vocal possibilities by Trevor Wishart,3 and notation in Time and motion study III4 by Brian Ferneyhough, a multidimensional vocabulary for voices was found. The singers would need to continously master combinations of:

These are mostly known vocal techniques which have been defined and used elsewhere. This piece requires the capability to switch fluently through a large repertoire of human sounds.

For several works after Intermezzi, I narrowed the range of sonorities down for practical reasons. The collaboration with the vocal ensemble Song Circus gave a possibility to have experiences with the full range of vocal sounds used in Intermezzi. Through collaborations with Trevor Wishart and Ole Henrik Moe, their diverse backgrounds and vocal qualities, as well as their experience as improvisers, Song Circus could give life to these ideas.

All the 16 Intermezzi Fragments in Landscape with figures II, are self quotations taken out from the context of the older work Intermezzi, rearranged for 5 female voices.

From the original score of Intermezzi:


Some sounds would have to be skipped or summarized in a single voice. In this example the deep notes did not need to be skipped, as Eva Bjerga Haugen can reach well down in a tenor register.


Example 71: AB Intermezzi fragments 1-3

Some places it would be hard for a five part group to reproduce the sonorities of an eight part group. The problematic initial lung flutters were not included in the quotation.



In this example, the choir harmonizer11 adds remaning bass and tenor tones to the voice of Eva, in just intonation ad hoc tuning. Examples of this tuning approach are shown for the Antiphonal groups. Related ’pure intervals’12 replace equal tempered notations. The chord goes through many of the above mentioned inflections of timbre and vibrato.


Example 72: BM Intermezzi fragment 12


Subharmonic voice and half-lunged multiphonics are both results of low air pressure on the vocal chords. Transitions from tone to multiphonics or subharmonics imply gradually diminishing air pressure, while a transition from subharmonic to multiphonics can be done with a constant low air pressure, while gradually moving upwards in register. Outbursts of amplitude vibrato adds a conflict, as the higher air pressure will cause outbursts of normal voice. This is intended, the score is a map of actions to perform, not an exact notation of timbral phenomena.


Example 73: AO Intermezzi fragment 11



The water effects are slurping sounds with inhaled breath.13 Vowel transitions on breath sounds create transitions of pitch. Trills at the go between two different sounds. This is a simple version of what Trevor Wishart could define as a multiplex. I did not include multiplexes with many sounds in Landscape with figures II, while there are examples in the score of Intermezzi. Song Circus came closer to the multiplex idea through their live and preprocessed Joyce-improvisations.

The vocal writing was a beginning for all the Intermezzi fragments, ensemble parts were composed on top of many of them, to various degress, thickening existing vocal textures or presenting coexisting parallel strata. Only in rare cases were the quartertones doubled by microtonal organ.


1 http://www.rubensverregjertsen.com/Works/intermezzi.html

2 http://www.langsci.ucl.ac.uk/ipa/

3 Wishart, 1996, On Sonic Art.

4 http://www.edition-peters.com/

5 Wishart, 1996, On Sonic Art, p. 273.

6 Wishart, 1996, On Sonic Art, p. 264. The sound is demonstrated and named "windpipe".

7 Ibid. p. 271.

8 Ibid. p. 274.

9 Ladefoged, 2003, Vowels and Consonants, 191. http://www.langsci.ucl.ac.uk/ipa/

10 Wishart, 1996, On Sonic Art, p. 278.

11 The psychoirtrist~ MaxMsp object from Ircam.

12 Meaning based on simple number ratios from the overtone series.

13 Wishart, 1996, On Sonic Art, p. 274.

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