PORTICO DE LA GLORIA 2018: POLYCHROMY AND POLYPHONY

PORTICO DE LA GLORIA 2018: POLYCHROMY AND POLYPHONY

On 2018, July 12th the famous Gate of Glory in Santiago de Compostela has been re-opened. This extraordinary document of art and thinking still leaves us astonished and admired. The many colours of the original gate have been partially restored, giving a new look,a new surprising light to the monument.

At the same time NEW researches have revealed that a polyphonic experience lies behind the depictions of musical instruments in the hands of the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse, all around the arch.

All instruments are depicted in couples (2 harps, 2 lauds ...etc.) suggesting they can be played in duet. The so-called Organistrum, at the top of the arch, played by two musicians, shows a chromatic scale, thus indicating an extraordinary evolution in musical thinking at Santiago de Compostela during the 12th century.

Then, two-voices compositions in Codex calixtinus witness the developement of Polyphony at Santiago in the same age.

In our studies we have clearly demonstrated that Portico de la Gloria top instrument is a SPECIAL ONE, different from any other "two men lyre" known. In fact, its chromatic scale, quite useless for sacred music at that age, has suggested us the creation of a POLYPHONIC KEYBOARD that serves perfectly 12th century  new polyphonic repertory. If the OLD "two men lyre" with its diatonic scale could help may be accompanying simple polyphonies such as those discribed by "Musica enchiriadis" and "Micrologus", SANTIAGO's INSTRUMENT is the improvement of it, the herald of a new musical world.

This shed a new light over the whole Portico della Gloria music instruments setting: the couples are actually showing a polyphonic idea, not following only a sort of scenical arrangement.

Such as nowadys "chromatic restoration" of the gate: everything there shines in a better light !

LEARN MORE:

http://www.liuteriaseverini.it/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=24:organistrum-symphonia-caelestis-santiago-de-compostela&Itemid=1014

http://www.liuteriaseverini.it/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=32:organistrum-new-polyphonic-keyboard&Itemid=1014

please watch to our videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul9W_dTLXGc 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9vSzFcsQ4E

 

 

Salva

Salva

Read more...
polyphonic keyboard

Organistrum: new polyphonic keyboard

ORGANISTRUM IS THE WRONG NAME FOR:

SYMPHONIA COELESTIS or CAELESTIS.

My reconstruction of the instrument is based mainly on a new interpretation of its musical function, considering it as a true polyphonic instrument. To this purpose I invented  a special keyboard, providing some new tecnnical suggestion in using the wheel too.

Keyboard

By tuning the strings  either:  A – d – a   or:  A – e – a    we get an overall extension of two chromatic octaves (minus the last semitone). Before lifting each key, the performer  can choose which string he is going to touch, simply by turning the key to the proper position: the first one allows him to act on the bass string, the second on the middle one, the third on the higher string.

Thus it is possible to play two different melodic lines simultaneously. In Santiago sculpture the hands of the musician on the right are on the third and on the fifth key. This means he is playing  -c, g -  rather than  -d, f -  bichord on bass and middle strings,  or  - g, c’  rather than  - f, d’- bichord on middle and higher strings (first tuning).

 

First string                              a..       a#      b     c’     c’#     d’

Middle string                         d..       d#      e      f      f#      g    

Bass string                            A..       A#      B     c     c#      d

Keys                                      0          1       2     3       4      5

 

 In position 4 the key is provided with two tangents so as to act on  second and  third strings (tuned either in Fifth or Fourth)  at the same time to perform  Organum parallelum, leaving the bass string as a drone. 

Wheel

On the other side, the musician who is in charge of turning the crank, by a smooth, even movement of his right hand,  can  lift each string from the edge of the wheel in order to stop it vibrating with his left hand. This way you can either avoid conflicts between the voices or stop  undesired drone effects.  

 

LISTEN TO POLYPHONIC SYMPHONIA:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6vv4IPGgRk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9vSzFcsQ4E

 

 

SYMPHONIA COELESTIS RECONSTRUCTION

I chose one big  Red Willow (Salix purpurea) planck, seasoned in nature, from which I  carved the sound box and the base of the keyboard in one piece, average thickness  8-10 mm. Flat back, flat sides as in the original. 

GENERAL MEASURES:                                                                                                             

 Total length    940mm                                                                                                           

Max width      230mm                                                                                                              

 Depth              80mm                                                                                                                

 Diapason        720mm

In the bottom of sound box I drilled a 10mm hole for the wooden axis, made of Beech (Fagus silvestris). Axis ends into another hole of 10mm drilled directly with no axle box in a wooden bar (Spruce) 15mm thick, glued between the two lobes of sound box which has been carved out of one piece of Spruce (Picea  abies) 8mm thick with no other bars glued underneath. Keyboard  box is independent from the body of the instrument and can be easily removed to modify  general level of the bars, changing their angle with the strings or making reparations. The 11 bars of the keys, diameter 10mm, are of Pine (Pinus nigra) and the 55 pivoting tangents of Beech. The problem of the distances among the bars is discussed in the present article. To avoid noise made by the bars returning to their previous position, after being pulled up to play, a stripe of cloth has been glued at the bottom of the keyboard. The carved lid has been made of Spruce, 8mm thick and is simply interlocked with the body of the keyboard without any hinge or other device.

The wheel, 11cm  wide and 20mm thick is of Walnut (Juglans regia) and forced on  wooden axis without any screw, nail, or wedge. No axle box at the end. The Beech crank , stuck in the square end of the axis, can be easily removed. The soundboard is glued to the body of the instrument , no sound pole in it. The bridge is of Poplar (Populus nigra) reinforced with a Beech edge. The tailpiece  of Chestnut (Castanea sativa) is linked to the bottom of sound box by a leather lace. Tuning pegs are of Beech, no need for a tuning key. Two light  layers of pure almond oil have  been used as  finishing . Gut strings: 0.80, 1.10, 1.40mm.

 

THE NAME

To understand the reasons of my idea about the name, it's enough to read  Guido d'Arezzo, Micrologus, XVIII, 1-18.

To reject the uncertain name of Organistrum it is enough to read:
Christopher Page's articles in GSJ 1982, 1983.

 

 

 

 

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed