Luciano Berio: a - ronne

Luciano Berio a - ronne
a - ronne

Luciano Berio: a - ronne

Year of composition:
Scored for:
for 8 singers
Luciano Berio
Text author:
Edoardo Sanguineti
2S, 2A, 2T, 2B
to Ward and The Swingles II
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

The subject of a - ronne is the elementary vocalization of a text and its transformation into something perhaps equally elementary, but difficult to describe. The work, in fact, is not a musical composition in the traditional sense, even though the organizational procedures used are often musical (for example, the use of inflections and intonations, development of alliterations and of transitions between sound and noise, and occasional use of elementary melodies, polyphonies and heterophonies). The musical sense of a - ronne is basic, which is to say that it is common to any experience, ranging from everyday speech to theatre, where changes in expression imply and document changes in meaning. This is why I prefer to define the work as documentary on a poem by Edoardo Sanguineti, as one would speak of a documentary on a painting or on an exotic country. Sanguineti’s poem, which undergoes different readings in this work, is not treated as a text to be set to music, but rather as a text to be analyzed and as a generator of different vocal situations and expressions. Finally, a - ronne is also a kind of madrigale rappresentativo, i.e. “theatre for the ear” from the late sixteenth century in Italy, as well as a kind of vocal naive painting.  The range of given situations, no matter how extensive, can always be related to elementary situations, and to recognizable, familiar and obvious feelings; a social gathering, a speech in a square, a speech therapy session, the confessional, the barracks, the bedroom and such like.

Sanguineti’s poem is repeated about twenty times and almost always from beginning to end. It presents three themes: in the first part the theme of the Beginning, in the second part the theme of the Middle and in the third part that of the End. The poem is built strictly on quotations in various languages that extend from the beginning of the New Testament of John (in Latin and Greek), Luther’s German translation and its modifications in Goethe’sFaust , to a verse by Eliot; from a verse by Dante to the first words of the Communist Manifesto ; from a few words of an essay by Barthes on Bataille to the first letter of the alphabet (a, alpha, eleph) and to the last word which concluded the Italian alphabet in ancient times after ‘z’ (ronne). From this came the saying “from a to Ronne”, which has long since been replaced by “from A to Z”. The poem thus is also a highly articulated and discontinuous sequence of figures of speech, which explains the frequent uses of musical figures of speech in this work. Th

World première


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