Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Perfected Life

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

The Perfected Life

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

LAITMAN, LORI (b. 1955). THE PERFECTED LIFE (Emily Dickinson) for Mezzo-Soprano Voice and Piano. Enchanted Knickers Music (BMI), 2005-2006 (CVR). Tonal with shifting harmonies; B[musical flat]^sub 3^-F^sub 5^; Tess: M, CR; changing meters; varied tempos; V/M, P/mE-M; 9+ pages.

1. "An Amethyst Remembrance." Tonal; C^sub 4^-F^sub 5^; Tess: M; 3/4, 2/4, 4/4, ... = 76 but EXTREMELY flexible; V/M, P/mE; 2 pages.

2. "Dear March." Tonal; B[musical flat]^sub 3^-F^sub 5^; Tess: M; 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 6/8, 3/4, etc., ... = 120; V/M-mD, P/M; 5 pages.

3. "The Perfected Life." Tonal; C^sub 4^-F^sub 5^; Tess: CR; 4/4, 3/4, ... = 84 but very flexible throughout; V/M, P/M; 2+ pages.

These three songs composed for the birthdays of two friends and the composers fathers 90th birthday make an interesting small cycle on the poems of Emily Dickinson. Each poem speaks of an experience of life that comes to many of us in our lifetimes.

Composed for a 50th birthday, "An Amethyst Remembrance" reminds us that an idea or inspiration or love will not keep if we wait to engage with it. "I held a Jewel in my fingers-And went to sleep . . . I said 'Twill keep'-I woke and chide my honest fingers,/ The Gem was gone-And now, an amethyst remembrance/ Is All I own." A flowing melodic line for the voice rides over a two-voiced piano part, and both voice and piano engage in tone painting. The upward leap of a sixth in the introduction and the opening vocal line conveys the initial excitement of the "Jewel," but soon the warm day and soft winds induce sleep, reflected in the descending vocal line. Two measures before the vocal entrance at "I woke" the piano repeats the upward sixth three times-like a wakeup call-and the sleeper wakes to find the Jewel is gone, leaving only an "amethyst remembrance" behind. The vocal line ends with ascending open fifths over open fifths in the bass line of the piano, perhaps signifying the emptiness of what might have been.

A 59th birthday seems to make us more and more appreciative of the return of spring each year. …

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