play one, one

one, one

is a setting of one word from Shakespeare's Sonnet VIII. A handy synopsis can be found in Cliff's Notes:

"In this sonnet, the poet compares a single musical note to the young man and a chord made up of many notes to a family. The marriage of sounds in a chord symbolizes the union of father, mother, and child.

The first twelve lines elaborate a comparison between music and the youth, who, should he marry and have a child, would then be the very embodiment of harmony. But music, "the true concord of well-tuned sounds," scolds him because he remains single—a single note, not a chord. By refusing to marry, the youth destroys the harmony that he should make as part of an ensemble, a family. Just as the strings of a lute when struck simultaneously produce one sound, which is actually made up of many sounds, so the family is a unit comprised of single members who function best—and most naturally—when working in tandem with one another."

Unifying disparate elements into one seemed to be a convenient musical process for this little piece. Along those lines, the repetition of the word "one" in the  sonnet ("all in one, one pleasing note do sing") and its basic theme of unity--not to mention all those 1's in the interval vectors of the assigned tetrachords--drew me to the idea of setting one word. But which word? "One"? Possibly. But the ultimate goal of this unity is happiness; "joy" is a fairly singable word, and certainly not too much verbiage for a 2-3 minute song.

I attempt to bring a few disparate elements into a unified whole here. Primarily a kind of ambient "feedback"  is merged into a relaxed but slightly dancing, minimal, and--dare I say?-- joyful oneness.

And here's the complete sonnet:

Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
 Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
 Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.'

Avanti! Chamber Orchestra is conducted by Magnus Lindberg in this performance.
Soprano solo: Eija Räisänen