• Nico Muhly
  • So to Speak (2004)

  • St. Rose Music Publishing (World)

Commissioned by Amiel Melnick, fervent polyglot

  • 2+pic.222/4331/timp+3perc/pf.hp/str
  • 8 min

Programme Note

So To Speak is an extended meditation on an anthem for Pentecost by Thomas Tallis entitled Loquebantur Variis Linguis (they spoke in many tongues). After organizing the material for the piece, I wrote a melody that works against, underneath, and above Tallis’s lines to create counterpoint made of old and new elements. Patterns of aggressive woodwind scales and ornaments evoke some of the hysteria inherent in glossolalia (ecstatic speaking in tongues). The central section of the piece gestures towards an insect-like musical and religious fervor.
So To Speak is scored for orchestra and lasts seven minutes. It is dedicated to Amiel Melnick.

Nico Muhly


Preview the score