En un vergier sotz fuella d’albespi
“In an orchard under leaves of hawthorn”
for Alto and Bass Duet with some overtone and throat singing
Duration: ca. 5’50”
13th century anonymous French-Occitane Alba
Music by Edward Caine
Score includes IPA symbols to aide pronunciation of the Occitane, and literal English translation by Robin Bier.
The vocal duet En un vergier sotz fuella d’albespi is based on a 13th century poem thought to be one of the earliest “alba” (a particular poetic form) in existence. While there is no clue as to its author, the nature of the text places it as possibly written by a “trobaritz” or female troubadour, according to the book Songs of the Women Troubadours by Bruckner, Shepard and White. The form of the alba, with a pause (or caesura) after the fourth syllable is reminiscent of the earliest known sacred use of this form, Reis Glorios by Giraut de Bornelh.
In 2009 the vocal duet Bright Cecilia, comprising Graham and Robin Bier created a project for composers to write music to the un-set text found in Songs of the Women Troubadours. At the time I was very interested in overtone singing and throat singing, and knew that Graham had been experimenting with them too. As a result this setting uses overtones heavily and some spare uses of throat singing, which are optional. I think the result is pretty, especially in the chorus, when the two singers explore gentle chords formed using the overtones in their voices.
“Edward Caine brought a slow, studied beauty to a duet on [En Un vergier]”
– Martin Dreyer, York Press
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