Thursday, 8 July 2010

Diabolus in musica : Lloyd Moore

Diabolus in Musica: the devil in the music. British composer Lloyd Moore’s Diabolus in Musica (2007) refers to the tritone. In the Middle Ages, people weren't used to the modern equal tempered scale. They liked the symmetry of perfect fourths and fifths.The tritone, an augmented fourth between pure intervals offended their concepts of symmetry, which saw coded religious messages in many things. It "must" have been the Devil's work because it undercut symmetry. In practice, however, singers sharpened and flattened notes when they could, to enliven their lines.

Lloyd Moore’s Diabolus in Musica is wonderfully vivacious and inventive. It's very mature, very distinctive. Do yourself a favour and listen to it while you can. It’s broadcast on BBC Radio 3, online, (follow this link) on demand and internationally until Saturday night London time. Andre de Ridder conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra.  It runs about 15 minutes, starting around 3 minutes in. I know, I’ve been listening to it repeat after repeat. Highly recommended!

This is how Moore describes the piece:
“Although there are, obviously, tritones in Diabolus in Musica, they tend to govern underlying harmonic schemes rather than being too obviously apparent on the surface. Structurally, the work proceeds by stages to would-be climaxes which end in collapse each time. After the second of these, a central section at half-speed ensues with woodwind solos over chiming bell sounds. The character of the opening eventually returns, this time proceeding more decisively. A section with stuttering, ‘morse-code’ patterns on three piccolos leads to a somewhat Varèse-like preparation over a pedal point, after which the work’s true climax is reached (confirmed by the attainment of the work’s overall ‘tonic’ pitch of F), followed by a brief coda which drives the resolution home.”

Lloyd Moore was born in London into a non-musical family and studied composition at Trinity College of Music and King's College London. His earliest recognised work is Divine Radiance for large ensemble, first performed by the London Sinfonietta in 1999. Other works have been performed by such performers as the Philharmonia Orchestra, Psappha, Emperor Quartet and pianist Andrew Zolinsky at the Huddersfield, Norfolk; Norwich, Hampstead & Highgate, Cheltenham and Presteigne Festivals, among others. His works have been broadcast in the UK, Europe and Australia. Read more about Moore and his music here on his

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