Saturday, March 21, 2015

40 Days of Chant, Psalm 28

So, I sat down to write angry.  I'm not going to write about why I am angry; rather the fact that psalm 28 is a perfect text to set when mad to the gills.  It is yet again one of those psalms where the author is imploring God to obliterate the enemies, begging God for justice and providence.  Then, near the end it switches to confident praise as if the psalmist is confident in God's justice even if it is yet to occur.

I wanted to use dissonance to articulate both my anger and the anger of the text.  I decided to write atonally for the first six verses, then in C major for the switch.  When I write atonal music I look for some other way to provide structure to the piece.  I don't want it to sound like I threw notes on the page willy-nilly.  I decided, admittedly with a bit of spite, to thumb my nose at one of the cardinal part writing rules and use parallel fifths in the lower voices. The parallel minor thirds in the upper voices moving in contrary motion help add both dissonance and direction.

I didn't want the switch to tonal to sound trite, however.  So instead of a C major with a minor-ninth sonority like I started the part, I made it a major ninth to have a bit of crunch but less dissonance.

1O LORD, I call to you;
my Rock, do not be deaf to my cry; *
    lest, if you do not hear me,
    I become like those who go down to the Pit.
2Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, *
    when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.
3Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the
                              evildoers, *
    who speak peaceably with their neighbors,
    while strife is in their hearts.
4Repay them according to their deeds, *
    and according to the wickedness of their actions.
5According to the work of their hands repay them, *
    and give them their just deserts.
6They have no understanding of the LORD'S doings,
nor of the works of his hands; *
    therefore he will break them down and not
                               build them up.

7Blessed is the LORD! *
    for he has heard the voice of my prayer.
8The LORD is my strength and my shield; *
    my heart trusts in him, and I have been helped;
9Therefore my heart dances for joy, *
    and in my song will I praise him.
10The LORD is the strength of his people, *
    a safe refuge for his anointed.
11Save your people and bless your inheritance; *
    shepherd them and carry them for ever.

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