My Frame Was Not Hidden From You – Richard Barnard


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My Frame Was Not Hidden From You is inspired by the 15th century polyphony of Ockeghem and his contemporaries. It is a mensuration canon, taking the technique used in Ockeghem’s┬áMissa prolationum and other works.

The four vocal parts sing exactly the same score (as seen in the ‘Template’ part showing the identical basis for each part). The only differences between the parts are the added clefs, time signatures and performance instructions. The resulting music is a 4-part polyphonic setting of the text where each voice sings the same melody throughout, at different intervals, speeds and points of entry.

These rules are not just for the pleasure of the process; they shape the meaning of the piece, its musical character and sound world. The construction of the music, visually transparent but aurally hidden, is a ‘secret’ creative process; both known and unknown.

The piece explores the idea of predestination: Are we fixed in our fate? Is there freedom within confinement? Are there different possibilities and alternative destinies when following a path already set before us?

My Frame was not hidden from you
When I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together
In the depths of the earth,
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
Were written in your book
Before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:15-16 (NIV)