a ritual for baritone, violoncello and percussion

Jeffrey Holmes

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a ritual for baritone, violoncello and percussion

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Composer Jeffrey Holmes
Year of Composition 2018
Duration ca.15'
Categories (all composers)
Catalogue ID ce-jh1e1


I composed :ERILAZ: in 2018 for baritone Vincent Ranallo. This work is scored for the unusual combination of baritone voice, violoncello, and percussion. In :ERILAZ: I attempted to interpret and recreate an imagined fantastical version of the sounds one might have heard at an ancient primordial ritual. The music is made to be of another time…weather of the ancient past, or the distant future, but is intense and highly dramatic. This ritualistic idea manifests in each of the performers music: the baritone sings an ancient and archaic runic text, and performs equal tempered tunings as well as equal tempered microtones divided into quarter and sixth-tones, and microtonal tunings derived from overtone harmonics, and eventually devolves into violent shouting; the violoncello often plays double-stops with extreme bow pressure and notes in the highest register in an imitation of a primitive instrument such as the ancient Nordic “lur” as well as joining the baritone in many microtonalities; the percussionist plays only non-pitched instruments that could have been used in primordial times, such as skinned drums and various suspended metal objects…additionally, the baritone and saxophonist are also asked to play
ancient instruments such as a lyre, suspended metal chains, drums, and wind chimes.

The text of :ERILAZ: is taken from an inscription made on a bone antler carved into the shape of a rib bone, made between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE, and found in Skåne (modern-day Sweden, the source of my personal ancestry), cataloged as the Lindholm Amulet (DR 261, Rundata). The carving was made in the Elder Futhark written system of runes, notating a Proto-Germanic or Proto-Scandinavian dialect. The meaning is entirely not clear, but it appears to be a magickal or ritualistic chant or appeal to the Old Gods. Both the transliteration and the interpretation of the original runic text are made by the composer.