Three Medieval Chants
I. Franciscan Chant (2005)
II. Bulgarian Chant (2015)
III. Raga Basant (2018)
The three chants are based on modes from the 13th and 14th centuries, and represent three different countries: Italy, Bulgaria, and India. I have attempted to write variations on these beautiful chants while respecting the traditional requirements and fundamental simplicity of the period in which they were written.
Franciscan Chant, associated with St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), and acquired by the Franciscan Order soon after its inception, has an exquisite melody rarely found in early chant writing since emphasis was given more to the text. Because of the chant’s free-flowing character, I chose to add a complementary harmonic accompaniment reminiscent of Debussy. In addition, bars are notated in a variety of meters to replicate the neumatic, non-metered original sung chants.
I am particularly fond of this work which seems to have taken on its own identity without much help from me—some things composers cannot explain! Given this thought, I recall a perceptive comment made by Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the most celebrated and innovative composers of the 20th century:
“A creative person is always most excited when something happens that he cannot explain, something mysterious or miraculous. Then he is very nervous.”
Franciscan Chant is dedicated to the memory of Ana Marquez-Greene.
—Barbara Kolb, 2019
This program note may be reproduced free of charge in concert programs with a credit to the composer.