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Berio Circles

-ABCBA structure (ark form)

I stinging
II - riverly is a flower
III - n(o)w
IV - riverly is a flower
V stinging
-female voice, harp and two percussionists

-detailed instructions for placement of instruments when performed.

-interesting setting of words, texts becomes more unclear towards the
middle of the piece, us of melisma and strange setting of words, no longer
a linear narrative.
- Interesting emphasis on sounds of words and vowels.
-text is sung, spoken, moaned, shouted and whispered. One of the first
uses of aprox pitch.
-discussion on the quality of voice and technical demand needed for this
piece. Similar to 8 songs for a mad kind, the sounds created but the singer
are extremely theatrical. Some may think that performances of pieces of
this style may not be vocally demanding.
-doesnt use conventional musical rules with a free feel, allowing the
piece to portray many emotions, sad, joyful and funny at times. This is
also due to e.e. cummings unusual poems, changing feelings suddenly at
-no set meter, singer sings rhythms proportionally, giving a free, more
theatrical feel to the piece.
-simple opening, with only voice and harp, almost unaccompanied. Text
describes a church scene, "silver chants the litanies" and "the great bells are
ringing." Possibly representing early church music, with great use of melisma and
very little text.
- accented syllables of the word "stinging". Allows singer to be theatrical with
sounds and ideas of the text
- Cathy Berberian (Berio's wife and the most famous singer of his work)
Performance techniques can complement composers ideas. Eg. Singers use of
fast vibrato similar to the sound of a flying bea on the words "stinging gold
-clever word painting between text and instrumentation, well thought out sounds
passed between instruments and voice.

-In the first movement he also uses the word "bells" to enter some chime type
bell sounds both in voice and harp
-On the words "dragging the sea with dreams" he drags the rest of the ensemble
into the piece. Though it becomes more evident in the middle movements he
also starts to imitate textual vocal sounds in the instruments. The final held "-S"
of "dreams" is echoed by the sand block and maracas.
-These "riverly" ideas (riverly means, you guessed it, like a river) are musically
painted by little trills that mimic the sounds of a babbling brook or river and
continue through most of the movement. The only time these trills cease is on
the mention of death and/or pain. Words like "tomb," "anguish," "moan-loll,"
"morte carved smiles," and "ghosts" all cause the end or at least temporary
pause of these water sounds.
-The last line "sly slim gods stare" (stare is sung spookily without vibrato) brings
a quiet, pensive section that evokes the idea of someone being watched. This
line is repeated and quietly closes the movement.
-The 4th movement is perhaps the most pleasant of all the movements. The harp
returns at the beginning offering a quasi-melody. If the 2nd movement focused
on the death aspect of "riverly," the 4th movement focuses on the water and
"dream-send" aspect. It is a much more delicate setting with single note
melodies from the harp throughout and ending with the high clear sounds of
glass chimes, glockenspiels, and finger cymbals.