Hrith (Hrið-Móðr-Ljómi)

for solo guitar and six instruments

Jeffrey Holmes

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for solo guitar and six instruments

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Composer Jeffrey Holmes
Year of Composition 2013
Duration ca.16'


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Student Difficulty

Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-jh1h2


Hrið – Móðr – Ljómi was composed in the Fall of 2013 and is dedicated to my long-time collaborator and friend, guitarist Michael Kudirka, as a tribute to his virtuosity and artistry. This work is comprised of several sections that intersperse movements for both the ensemble and soloist, with movements for the soloist alone. Together, they project one dramatic arc that creates a fantastical journey of death, set in a Scandinavian landscape, and engages the question of afterlife:

I. Hrið [Onset, Attack, Storm]:
1. Myrkr Agæti [Darkness, Celebration]2. Fjölkyangi [Oðin’s Seiðr]3. Vætvang Vé [Battlefield, Sacred Site]– Draumr: Svarti Sæ [Dream: Black Sea]II. Móðr [Fury, Wrath]4. Fylgior [Spirit that Appears Before Death]5. Bardagi Reiðr [Battle Anger]6. Hergautr [Army God]– Draumr: Blakkr Straumr [Dream: Dark Current]III. Ljómi [Radiance]7. Vig Reifr [Battle Rejoice]8. Valkyrjor [Choosers of the Slain]9. Norner Virðing [Fate, Honor]-Draumr: Svalbarð [Dream: The Cold Edge]

Several devices are used to project the large-scale formal design such as a constant isomorphic rhythmic and formal talea (a number series that is reflected kaleidoscopically in the foreground, middleground, and background), the development of melodic motives, and dramatic dynamic contrasts and returns. Various types of pitch materials are used that create the harmonic language including non-octavating vertical equal temperment, microtonal divisions of equal temperment (third-tones and quarter-tones), both overtone and undertone tunings, synthetic “fake” overtone and undertone series, and inexact microtonalities such as glissandi and other noises. These various harmonic languages create multiplicities of timbre that alternate, interact, return and disappear. Microtunings occur throughout the instruments: in the “detuning” of the solo guitar from the rest of the ensemble by a specific microtonal interval, through pitch bending by most of the instruments, in the spectrum of sounds created by the percussion, and by the articulation of various overtones themselves. Overall, this work presents a constantly varied landscape of dramatic and intense moods and images, and depicts a journey through a Nordic spiritual battlefield…as a soul transcends its physical being.