Malcolm Hill: Soprano Solo Mass (2001)

In 2001, the Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Queen Square, asked Malcolm to compose an English Mass for Susanna Watson to sing. While it was being written, the Rector changed his mind and the Mass was never performed. The work consists of Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus, all accompanied by chamber organ which consists mostly of a single line. Susanna Watson gave the first performance.

Malcolm Hill : Sound-Houses in New Atlantis (2010)

In 1624, Francis Bacon published a brief novel, The New Atlantis, where all the attributes of New Atlantis are boasted to the author. One particular passage, describing Sound Houses, seems to foretell the BBC radiophonic workshop. Once Malcolm Hill saw the mention of quartertones, he started integrating the sentences (sung in a different order) with passages from a quartertone string sextet which he had written in 1993. He showed the text to Doug Kessler who the following day produced requested words for a choral coda which parodies the banalities of modern advertising slogans.

“Wee have also Sound-Houses, wher wee practise and demonstrate all Sounds, and their Generation. Wee have Harmonies which you have not, of Quarter-Sounds, and lesser Slides of Sounds. Diverse Instruments of Musick likewise to you unknowne, some sweeter then any you have; Together with Bells and Rings that are dainty and sweet. Wee represent Small Sounds as Great and Deepe; Likewise Great Sounds, Extenuate and Sharpe; Wee make diverse Tremblings and Warblings of Sounds, which in their Originall are Entire. Wee represent and imitate all Articulate Sounds and Letters, and the Voices and Notes of Beasts and Birds. Wee have certaine Helps, which sett to the Eare doe further the Hearing greatly. Wee have also diverse Strange and Artificiall Eccho’s, Reflecting the Voice many times, and as it were Tossing it; And some that give back the Voice Lowder then it came, some Shriller, and some Deeper; Yea some rendring the Voice, Differing in the Letters or Articulate Sound, from that they receyve. Wee have also meanes to convey Sounds in Trunks and Pipes, in strange Lines, and Distances.”

From Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis


Malcolm Hill : Three Dante Fragments

[1165: The birth of Dante

1215: Dante Fragments from The Divine Comedy]

The first fragment comes from Canto 19 of Paradise and contrasts the image of a mother stork’s circling over her young with that of mere mortal’s incomprehension of eternal judgement.

The second fragment comes from Canto 7 of Paradise and relates the sudden vanishing of the image of the brightness of God.

The third fragment comes from Canto 19 of Paradise and Canto 6 of Purgatory. The text warns the leaders of England and Scotland that their thirsting pride which makes them attempt to rule outside their own territories will bring about a worrying judgement.

Ut Queant  :  Waller Goodworth was born in London in 1858 and died in Hastings in 1938. He was an orchestral violinist until a cycling accident crippled his right thumb. He taught at Trinity College of Music in London, where he championed the use of tonic-sol-fa for singing and instituted theory examinations for practical musicians (before the Associated Board introduced their famous Grade 5 theory exams). His main published works, however, were a series of 500-page international touring guides for cyclists which went through several editions between 1890 and 1905; they were published by the Cyclists’ Touring Club, of which he was a founder. The thickly-scored motet Ut queant relates both to tonic sol-far and St. John the Baptist. Only the first phrase survives; the remaining motet was completed by Malcolm Hill.