I don’t always have the chance to work in larger forms. One of my current writing projects is a one woman short opera on Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love. I’m writing it for my dear friend Rebecca Shane, and I can’t wait to present this work. The sketch is coming so fast, I’m not sure how to scratch out the ideas quickly enough.
One of the specific strengths of large forms is the ability to create analogs through recapitulation. The emotional power gained through repetition over the course of time is increased exponentially with the intervening material serving as a foil. One of the things that struck me tonight was the power of the music to create analogs that I hadn’t previously considered.
I was heading toward a passage of text. When I got there, I thought, “Hmmm, I bet I could set that music (on about pg. 20 of my sketch) to the same music that I used on pg. 5.” It turned out that it fit beautifully. What I didn’t consciously realize at first was that the music on pg. 5 was about someone telling her to look at something, and the passage on pg. 20 was also a different person telling her the same thing.
I like this very much because I want to be the analogy maker. It’s a general thing in my Weltanschuaung. In a world where the academy spends so much time explaining things by breaking them down into their component parts, I think it is particularly important for those of us that are liberally arted to spend time picking up the pieces and gluing them back together. There is a rich and meaningful intellectual tradition of harmonizing seemingly disparate ideas. One of the great gifts that text set to music offers is the ability to inexorably bind together texts that at first don’t seem to relate. When they are forced into relation through musical recapitulation, they create the multivalency that ties all the broken pieces of the universe back together again.