Jessica Baylón Robles; 02/26/2019
If I were a Swan (2012)
When I listened to several of Kevin Puts’ works, my impression of his instrumental works was like he wanted to mix the classical style of composition with a style of film music such as the composers John Williams or Ennio Morricone.
The work I selected was a choral work that begins with a chorus of female voices divided into 3, started with the vowel “I” which provides a very bright color to the first chord, so it gives a first impression that the work is just going to be a choral work only for female voices, because it also uses a pedal note in the most low string of female voices.
The first dynamic that uses is piano with some crescendos and decrescendos.
The chords are formed by the entry of a single note, and then adding one by one the others to create the harmony.
Throughout the piece there are imitative melodies, where the text is overlying like a canon style, and even though the text is difficult to understand in some parts (because the composer uses higher notes when has words like “Sky” or “high” in the text of the poem), there are some other parts where we can understand the text very well, because it is also first presented by the melody of a single voice that is then followed by the other voices.
After a few bars we can hear the entrance of male voices and we can predict that then the work is made up of 6 voices, because after listening to the first 3 voices of women we can intuit that we need an equivalent number of voices for the work in general.
When masculine voices are added the color of the timbre in the work becomes darker and the range of notes reached is more extensive. When these masculine voices are added is when the word “darkness” is mentioned in the text of the poem, and the harmony moves towards a minor key.
In this first section, each voice enters different times of the beat, but the rhythm is very clear and we can easily follow the rhythmic pattern.
It is when it mentions the word “turbulences” that the entries of each voice change, and if the entries were in the strong time, they are now in a syncopated time giving this illusion of “turbulence” to the sound waves of the music.
When it says the word “spreading” also in the voices is heard how the chord opens, giving it a sound resembles in our auditory sense a spreading of sound.
The first section concludes when the composer adds a percussive rhythm to some strings of voices, including short syllables with more consonants instead of continuing to sing melodies over extended vowels, which gives the auditory illusion of drops, which hints at the “rain” that is also mentioned in the poetic text, while there is a melodic theme sung by male voices.
In the second section we need to focus on the internal voices, as the voice of alto and tenor, to be able to understand the text well, because the soprano, who is the voice that normally has the melody, in this work in my opinion plays more a role of ornament about the real melody.
All the voices use a tone without vibrato, in order to appreciate the quality of the chords and have a better established tuning and is easier to maintain it.
The timbre of the voices is very homogeneous and the tenors use the falsetto voice most of the time to sing their high notes to match or blend with the choral ensemble.
It is clear that the composer knows about the vocal technique or that he asked for advice from some pedagogue of the voice, because he always uses the correct vowels according to the emission that is needed in certain notes in the human voice and we can notice it at the end of the work when uses the vowel “U” in the final diminuendo, which is a vowel that helps to control the expulsion of the air and that facilitate for the singer the achievement of that effect, although it also seems that in this interpretation some members of the choir are silenced being alone with some of the members singing to achieve a more contrasting effect.
The harmony that is used and developed throughout the work is very traditional, with some more complex chords but it does not involve serialism or some modern 20th century composition style, nor is it an atonal work at any time.
It is a song with a duration of approximately 6 minutes and that is divided into 3 sections which always start only with the female voices and then the male voices are added.