MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Sonic Masterworks

Grant Gershon leads the Los Angeles Master Chorale in the final program of the season this weekend. Here’s a bit about one of the pieces, Anders Hillborg’s Mouyayoum:

Mouyayoum dates from 1983 – relatively early in Hillborg’s career – and represents a Nordic take on Minimalism. The title is merely a formula: a phonetic reference point for Hillborg’s wordless music. During rehearsal of the piece, he asks the singers to “choose a comfortable pitch and sing the formula [mouyayoum] at a slow tempo such that each individual phoneme is consciously articulated (legato); once this starts to work, gradually increase the tempo; finally, sing so quickly that the individual phonemes cannot be articulated clearly and the formula is perceived as a single sound.”

The musical material derives from transparent harmonies and two types of phrases extending over 16 quarter notes: one sustained and one broken into a flow of 16th notes.

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Filed under: choral music, Los Angeles Master Chorale

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