Five weeks ago we picked up our music for the next concert project – an evening of works by Hildegard von Bingen, well known for her chant music. Our group has done some incredibly difficult music works in the past – twelve parts, tricky rhythms, dissonant harmonies, but this one was perhaps one of the hardest of all.
When this music was originally composed, there was no such thing as musical scores like we’re familiar with today, with key signatures and time signatures and useful markings to tell you how everything goes together. All you got, if you were lucky to have anything written down in the first place, was a line of notes with maybe a few notations here and there to indicate when you go up and when you go down in the scale. Easy to perform, perhaps, if it’s just one person singing it, or if, as was the case back then, everything was simply done by memorization. However, there’s 13 of us, and we only five weeks, to go through every single piece, line by line, and note by note, and make decisions on how we wanted to interpret them, so that during the actual performance we would be able to come together as one voice,