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Nocturns
For flute and guitar.
The title refers to a sequence of night services associated with the Divine Office still celebrated in some monastic communities during Holy Week. The Nocturns are part of Matins and are celebrated as an extended meditation of antiphons, psalms and readings. On Maundy Thursday there are two Nocturns during which Psalms 69 -72 are intoned and passages from the Lamentations of Jeremiah read. At the conclusion of each psalm a candle is extinquished . . .

When I composed this work in 1972 I had not experienced for myself the special quality of the 'night office'. It was something I had only read about in devotional literature. The 'idea' captured and played on my imagination then as a 'context' within which music might be made and performed. During Holy Week 2005 I witnessed the Nocturns sung by the Benedictine sisters of Stanbrook Abbey in Worcestershire and in my diary wrote:In the early hours the psalm tone is a single note. The words flow into one another and the acoustics of Pugin's chapel play tricks with the ears. Voices break into quarter and eighth tone clusters that reform themselves miraculously at the end of phrases. Click here to read more about Holy Week at Stanbrook Abbey.


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Nigel Morgan, Prudential Buildings, 55 Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1BW, United Kingdom Tel: 01924 383017 e-mail: tonalitysystems@mac.com

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