Canciones de amor y la noche for voice, electronics, and twelve players (1998)

by Bruce Christian Bennett

Hear Noche from Canciones de amor y la nocheNoche.mp3 (MP3)

Download the score: canciones.pdf

Canciones de amor y la noche is scored for voice and twelve players divided into three quartets: wind quartet; guitar, two percussionists, and keyboardist (synthesizer); and trumpet and string trio.

The whole work is ordered as a series of alternating instrumental episodes (by quartet) and three songs (with the full ensemble):

crepúsculo (guitar, percussion, synthesizer)
I. Noche
noche oscuro (wind quartet)
II. Cruz
noche transluciente (trumpet and string trio)
III. Madrugada
epílogo (solo voice and electronics)

The texts for the three songs are taken from Poema del Cante Jondo by Federico García Lorca. The Cante Jondo of the Andalusian Gypsies is a style of singing that precedes Flamenco. The particular ornamentation, the use of the church modes, recitation tones, the rhythmic profile, and micro-tonal inflections of the voice all contribute to a distinctive vocal style that is both virtuosic and profoundly emotional. I have abstracted aspects of this singing style in Canciones. Certain ornamental figurations, modal patterns, and quarter-tones my be heard as being of Andalusian origin.

All elements of the composition are derived from the vocal line, which was composed first. I employ three different types of harmonic structures in these songs, all of which are more or less derived from the vocal line, and explore how these different harmonic structures might intersect. The three types of harmonic (pitch) fields are: 1) harmonic structure based on the overtone series; 2) chords derived from frequency modulation synthesis generated spectra (single carrier/single modulator model) where the carrier frequencies and modulating frequencies are pitches of structural significance in the vocal line; and 3) scales of fixed or limited transposition that do not repeat at the octave and are derived from intervalic patterns of the vocal melody. Furthermore, the melodic instruments tend to echo or presage melodic figurations in the vocal line, often distorted, elaborated, or condensed.

Canciones de amor y la noche are dedicated to my wife, Joli.


Cirio, candil, farol y luciérnaga.
La constelación de la saeta.
Ventanitas de oro tiemblan,
y en la aurora se mecen cruces superpuestas.
Cirio, candil, farol y luciérnaga.


La cruz
(Punto final del camino.)
Se mira en la acequia.
(Puntos suspensivos.)


Pero como el amor
los saeteros están ciegos.
Sobre la noche verde,
las saetas dejan rastros de lirio caliente.
La quilla de la luna
rompe nubes moradas
y las aljabas se llenan de rocío.
¡Ay, pero como el amor
los saeteros están ciegos!


Voice (amplified with signal processing)

First Quartet: guitar (amplified); Percussion I: marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, temple blocks, wood blocks; Percussion II: xylophone, chimes, crotales, small and large triangles, small, medium, large, and sizzle cymbals (suspended), small, medium, and large gongs, tam-tam, mark tree; synthesizer

Second Quartet: piccolo, flute, and alto flute; clarinets in B-flat and E-flat, and bass clarinet; oboe and English horn; bassoon

Third Quartet: trumpet in C; violin; viola; cello

Performance History