The Solstice Song


Listen to
The Solstice Song - Part 1

Listen to
The Solstice Song - Part 2

Listen to
The Solstice Song - Part 3

Listen to
The Solstice Song - Part 4

Listen to
The Solstice Song - Part 5


The premiere of this song was broadcasted June 19th, 2010 as part of the
Summer Solstice 2010 Online Streaming Concert.

The song is a 30 minutes long composition. Because of this it is presented here as a five parts suite. The structure of the song has an
arch form, so each one of these parts represents a movement of the composition.

SolsticeArr1

You can see, from the above image of
Apple Logic’s arrange page, the symmetry of the arrangement.

The first and the last movements are microtonal (using
Carlos Gamma tuning system), the second and fourth ones are in 12tET and the central one uses both tuning systems, either by themselves or both at the same time.
The only exception to this scheme is a couple of short 12tET insertions on the fifth movement.

The song features Spectrasonics
Omnisphere, Camel Audio Alchemy, MOTU Ethno2 and Apple EXS24 virtual instruments, Nord Stage 88 piano, a few percussion loops and myself singing!

SolsticeArr2

That’s the track list for this song.
The prefix OM- stands for Omnisphere, ET- for Ethno2, EX- for EXS24 and AL- for Alchemy. The final “Ga” shows instruments tuned to Carlos Gamma and “12t” those tuned to 12tET.
There are 12 virtual synths and 4 audio tracks (the four muted tracks are MIDI tracks for the Nord Stage 88 bounced to audio).
A few instruments appear with both tuning systems as you can notice listening to the song.
The “Carlos” track is where I recorded my “cameo” singing pseudo-Portuguese gibberish or as they say “cantar besteira”!
I am not by any stretch of the imagination a singer so it’s only an ironic small thing but I felt that melody needed a voice and mine was the only one available.

The compositional technique used throughout the song is that of the “
leitmotif”, in this case the “solstice theme”.

The same theme is used for each one of the five movements and, as the Wikipedia definition says: “
...such a theme should be 'clearly identified so as to retain its identity if modified on subsequent appearances' whether such modification be in terms of rhythm, harmony, orchestration or accompaniment” and, in this case, tuning system.
When I came up with the idea of a “solstice theme” a melody simply appeared in my mind. The original version I “received” is the one played by the guitar on the second movement.

It’s interesting that this composition started out using the new
Xx5 algorithmic composition tool and MIDI sequencer by U&I. Sequences built with it were saved as MIDI files, imported into Logic and assigned to an Omnisphere sound. You can hear them on the first and last movements played by a tuned percussion instrument that reminds me of those marimba-like instruments built by Harry Partch!

Composing such a long tune has been like assembling a big jigsaw puzzle. I think I have been blessed with inspiration throughout the 3 weeks it took me to put it together. It has been fun! A composition is a mirror through which a composer disclose something about himself to the listener. Composing is both a form of communication and a necessity for me.

Hope you enjoy it too!

Chris Vaisvil commented:
Part 1 is an excellent combination - spooky and a cool groove! 
Part 2 - really a surprizing turn! Funky jazz yeah!! 
Part 3 - lovely peace 
Part 4 - grab a pina colada and dance! 
Part 5 - dancing continues! 
Great work Carlo!


Peter Davies commented:
Carlo, I enjoyed listening to your Solstice Song very much!  It was a bit like opening up a box of chocolates and finding a different flavour in each of them - Latin, oriental, jazz fusion, salsa and so on, each of the 5 parts having its own special blend, and all bound together with a continuity that makes a splendid whole - definitely a unique listening experience!