Precious (2013) for Wind Ensemble [6:00]
I. Behind And Before
II. Wonderfully Made
~ A speech transcription of Psalm 139
~ Second in the Psalm Series
~ 11 X 17 score and set of 34 parts
To my future children:
I love you already, and so does He. All the days ordained for you are written in His Book.
What is a speech transcription? A speech transcription is a musical composition that brings poetry to life without words. Although it is instrumental, the melodies are not simply an abstract representation of the text, but a literal transcription of the pitches and rhythms of a piece of poetry as it would be spoken aloud. To that end, a variety of irregular and mixed meters is often necessary.
Program Notes: Precious is a speech transcription of Psalm 139 (NIV 1984). The first movement, Behind And Before, comprises the first half of the psalm (v. 1-12) and represents the ever-present nature of God through a repetitive, relentless accompaniment based on the words “behind and before.” The musical structure mirrors that of the poetry, which alternates between groupings of four and two verses. The groups of four (v. 1-4, 7-10) feature a minimalistic ostinato with a syncopated and quintally harmonized melody floating over it, while the groups of two (v. 5-6, 11-12) are characterized by a long-note brass chorale interspersed with energetic piccolo solos. Movement II, Wonderfully Made (v. 13-24), begins as a lullaby as the text describes God forming life in the womb. The culmination of the movement, and of the entire piece, is the fortissimo, homorhythmic statement of verse 16: “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” After an aggressive segment in which the harmony and the percussion allude to Movement I (v. 19-22), the movement ends as softly as it began. The four-plus-two structure of the text is again reflected musically, except that the groups of four are now contrasting. The two movements are played consecutively with no pause in between.