Performance Questions

This FAQ section is specifically designed for conductors and performers. It attempts to answer some frequently asked questions with regards to interpreting the score, performance practice and other matters arising in performance. Please email Stephen if you have other questions you would like to have answered.

1. Is the “k” of “Knowee” pronounced? ANSWER : The K in Knowee is very hard and percussive. The k sound should cut through the texture.

2. How do the soloists handle the grace notes? You have “Kn” on them, followed by “no,” or you have “K” on one grace note, followed by “no.” I assume that they pronounce the “k,” then close to an “n.” This also happens later in the choral parts. I guess my main question is whether the “k” is pronounced or silent. ANSWER: These assumptions are correct. The K is always pronounced in a percussive manner.

3. Did you complete the work in 2007 or 2008? ANSWER: The work was completed in January 2008

A commonly asked question regarding Ngana is interpreting the notation at letter M in the score. The lines above the notes (like a percussion trill), indicate a similar effect using the voice. Here, the syllable is individually repeated as fast as possible on the same note, to create a rich and energetic texture which is not necessarily loud. Ie. Na-na-na- or m-m-m-m-m- etc.

Midsummer Noon – The black blocks of notation after letter M indicates that each singer chooses an individual pitch at this point and hums in a very rich cluster. The bigger the choir, the richer the cluster.

soughs – sow – wah   — sow as in the mother pig – ow like ouch
pittosporum  It is actually pronounced PitAsperim but I have set it as Pit as Porum (Pit as in pit, As as in ass, por as in poor, rum as in the drink) to match the meter of the music.
and the end – alto line in a box – is that repeated freely?  what do you do there? The Altos sing freely and can repeat ad lib.
Why do I change meters often? Because a rule of composition that I teach is “the music determines the meter, not the meter determines the music” and in this case, the meter reflects (as you rightly suggest) the rhythms of the words and the textures and colours that I am trying to create. The sense of anticipation, calm and serenity is also able to be captured much better when you have control of time ….. it is not predetermined by a regular mertonomic pulse. I think so many composers get stuck in the regularity of a predetermined meter to the point where the music doesnt have time or space to breath naturally.

Ngana – n (closed with tongue) – gah – nah
Munganna – mun (as in Monday) – gah – nah
Lina – lee – nah
Riawanna – re – ah – wah- nah
Yaraandoo – yah- rahn- doo
Uloola – ah – loo – lah
Kungala – cah – n – gah – lah
Coonawrin – coo – now – rin
Burrinjuck – bah – in – juck
Kondalilla – con -dah – li (as in lid) – lah