Writings on Water

The music for Carolyn Carlson’s solo dance piece brings together a group of pieces for string ensemble, plus a short unaccompanied vocal solo (pre-recorded).

1. Introit - strings and piano
2. Lauda 1 - unaccompanied voice
3. The North Shore - for solo viola, strings and piano
4. In Nomine (after Purcell) - for strings
5. Violin Concerto (“the Bulls of Bashan”) - for solo violin and strings

The vocal solo has its origins in the world of early music, being based in spirit and feeling on the unaccompanied “laude: of the 14th century. The people who originally sang such things - the ‘laudesi’ - banded together in confraternities (not unlike the Franciscans) and were not usually associated with a particular church. These outpourings were presumably followed by periods of quiet reflection such as we hear in the music of the rest of the work.

There is a clear structure to the sequence of pieces. The second and fourth works are reflections on music from an earlier period (the fourteenth century and the sixteenth), and have a precise spiritual connection. The pieces which follow them are for a solo string instrument accompanied by ensemble and act as meditations on the previous material. In the fifth piece, the violin concerto, there are clear references to the baroque, while the opening and ending of The North Shore emphasises the pure intervals (fourths, fifths) associated with music before the renaissance. For the performances in Paris the opening work, Introit, was added to make a work lasting about an hour.