solo female voice and percussion quartet

Madrigal is a short study in words and music. I wrote the text and music together (as a singer/songwriter might) to allow a negotiation between the melodic line, harmony, and words, rather than setting a pre-existing immutable poem. In this sense the text becomes partly an orchestrational decision made by shaping the singer’s mouth. The choice between a word with a long O sound versus one with a long A sound is like deciding between a trumpet and a clarinet. This process also afforded me with occasions to use text to reinforce ad hoc and asymmetrical rhymes in the harmony and vice versa.

Another aspect of the study nature of Madrigal is the consistent 3-voice harmonic texture. The voice sings only the top line of the harmony played by the vibraphone. This practice of using instruments to cover vocal parts was common in 16th-century madrigals as well.

—Steven Mackey