Seventh Seal text

I'm working on a song now for mezzo soprano, piano, and interactive computer music. The initial inspiration--which often has little to do with the final product--is the Ingmar Bergman film The Seventh Seal. The text is taken from Revelation 8:1-2.

And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.

I decided, however, to use Greek text for a couple of reasons. I prefer the original text whenever possible. Of course this often limits the intelligibility for the audience, but in this case that's a good thing. The book of Revelation is highly charged and interpreted in a variety of ways, and I don't want that overshadowing the other themes at work here. The non-English text also mirrors, for me, the Swedish text of the film, which sounds like carefully designed sound art punctuating long silences. Here is the Greek text:

Και οταν ηνοιξεν την σφραγιδα την εβδομην, εγενετο σιγη εν τω ουρανω ως ημiωριον

Και ειδον τους επτα αγγελους οι ενωπιον του θεοu εστηκασιν, και εδοθησαν αυτοις επτα σαλπιγγες.


And here's the film if you're interested.

Aristides Quintilianus on music

Music is a science of melos and of those things contingent to melos.  Some define it as follows:  "the theoretical and practical art of perfect and instrumental melos"; and others thus:  "an art of the seemly in sounds and motions."  But we define it more fully and in accordance with our thesis:  "knowledge of the seemly in bodies and motions."-Aristides Quintilianus, On Music (1.4), ca. 300 C.E.


These days I am studying every day for my upcoming placement exams at UNT this August.  I'm going through all the online chapter outlines from the Norton history books and also reading Strunk's Source Readings.  I had considered using this blog to summarize my studies every day, but decided that would get really dull.  However, from time to time I will discuss things that I am studying based on a very important criterion:  what I think is interesting.  Look for the catergory "Placement Exam Study." Here's something I thought was funny from Aristotle's Politics:

And let us add that [flute]-music happens to possess the additional property telling against its use in education that playing it prevents the employment of speech.

George Crumb might disagree!  In his Vox Balaenae (1971) he instructs the flutist to "sing-flute," or sing while playing.  (Although in fairness to Aristotle, he was referring to the Greek wind instrument the aulos, many of which were double-reeded (like the oboe) and would have made aulos-singing very difficult.)

And the quote of the day, from the same source:

...[B]oys must have some occupation, and one must think Archytas's rattle a good invention, which people give to children in order that while occupied with this they may not break any of the furniture, for young things cannot keep still.

©2017 Joshua Harris