• Theodor Grigoriu
  • Sea Vocalisms (1992)

  • Editions Transatlantiques (World)

Choral symphony

  • 30024121perc+glock+mba+viborg
  • Mixed choir (min. 24 voices)
  • 32 min

Programme Note

The vocal-instrumental symphony Sea Vocalisms is made up of 24 sequences which go on continuously, in the form of an arc, from a quiet atmosphere, to a central dynamic one (a tempest), to finally return to quiet. Throughout this developmental process, there is a gradual passage from diffuse surfaces to more contoured ones, as in a long process of getting familiarized with a strange world. I have chosen the succession of some sequences in order to facilitate the interpretation of the work.

Just like the orchestral poem Cosmic Dream, in Sea Vocalisms I use the same undulating series; everything that means meditation will depart from this series, detached from a specific ethos.

I have already shown, on a different occasion, that since I saw the sea for the first time, quite late in my life, the impression was overwhelming, as it was in fact my first encounter with infinity in a realistic form, not a theoretical one, as we often perceive it. Long years of observations followed, even the desire to put down musical ideas, the fascinating movement of the waves being the main preoccupation. After I had made a great number of oscillograms (by empiric means), following the pulsation of the waves, I was able to draw at least one interesting conclusion: the waves do not have an equal rhythm, there is a longer one from time to time, like in an aksak rhythm.

Thus, adopting the aksak rhythm in some moments of the symphony, I had the conviction that a suggestion closer to the marine breath can be obtained. Then I combined non-evolutionary music with an evolutionary one, as the aksak rhythm can be applied to both, which offers another continual rhythmic variation.

The choir sings isolated vocalisms, in diphthongs and triphthongs, according to a more complicated strategy. The agogics use the subtlest nuances, but also rapid sounds expansions (or diminutions), possible for the human voice, but less for instruments. The breath is also used as a wind machine, produced by the human voice.

The work represents an anthropomorphic interpretation of the sea, close to the Romanian people’s conception about nature and cosmos.

The idea of the work was born in 1978, when Debussy’s death, which had occurred 60 years earlier, was being commemorated, but while working, the author of La Mer was joined by the strong shadow of the great Enescu, author of Vox Maris. But for their music, the work would have seemed impossible to me.

The indications at the beginning of each of the 24 sequences may shed some light on the form of the work:
I. Senza rigore
II. Poco movimentato
III. Poco animato
IV. Poco nebuloso
V. Fluente
VI. Poco giocoso
VII. Poco agitato
VIII. Estatico
IX. Poco tenebroso
X. Melodioso, malinconico
XI. TEMPESTA, momento I
XV. TEMPESTA, momento V
XVI. TEMPESTO, momento VI, finale
XVII. Melodioso, da lontano
XVIII. Canto grave
XIX. Crepuscolo calmo
XX. Gioco static
XXI. Come ultima onda
XXII. Semplice, evocative
XXIII. Corale
XXIV. Soffio, corale, silenzio

Two pillars of memory are kept from the symphonic form: sequence X (melodioso, malinconico) and sequence XVII (melodioso, da lontano), similar as musical ideas, place before and after the sequences of the tempest (TEMPESTA). On the descending line there are echoes of the motifs from the first part, ascending, and the tempest is on the place of development.

- Theodor Grigoriu