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page one of Cantus/Conductus

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Year of composition
Difficult (Grades 7+)
13 minutes
Modern classical music
License details
For anything not permitted by the above licence then you should contact the publisher first to obtain permission.

Cantus/Conductus was originally written in 1983 and was revised in 2012. It is a quartet for flute, vibraphone, violin and cello and lasts just under 13 minutes.

The two movements focus, in turn, on the medieval terms Cantus and Conductus. Cantus is the word used for ‘song’ or ‘melody’, and is here used to describe a free development of short melodic phrases. On the other hand, Conductus was used, although in the context of vocal music, to describe the supporting parts to a cantus firmus, or main melody. In this composition, the word has been used to describe harmonic content as opposed to melodic.

Hence in the first movement, Cantus, melody is the starting point, although the counterpoint of melody suggests harmony in places; and in the second movement, Conductus, the starting point is harmony, but melodic strands soon develop out of the harmonic textures. The two movements are also contrasted by mood, the first building to an aggressive climax, with the second generally being much more relaxed.

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