Following his graduation in , Lauridsen joined the faculty at U. In , Lauridsen was named composer-in-residence for the Los Angeles Master Chorale under Paul Salamunovich , the position that would yield him his greatest successes. That year, the Chorale premiered the motet O Magnum Mysterium, which went on to become one of the most frequently performed and recorded contemporary choral works. The publishing house Theodore Presser Co. Though Lauridsen works in Southern California, he returns to his native Pacific Northwest during the summer, composing on a remote island off the Washington coast.
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I always designed as a piece that had never been composed, always been there. I designed this piece in the style of a French folk song. And for that I wanted to use a chord that was very French, and I went to the music of Ravel and Debussy for a single sonority from which to gather my materials for a melody and for the harmony and for the overall piece.
This particular chord which is simply a major tried with an added second, went on to provide all the material I needed for the composition of Dirait-on.
I decided that the piece would be accompanied by something that would sound like a guitar. And so I took that chord and made it into this kind of passage for a guitar.
The same chord, just changed a little bit an inversion. Something else is in the base, and then I went ahead and derived the melody from those four notes from this chord. It has to be simple. Because one of the characteristics of any folk song is its simplicity. It must be easily sung. It must be able to pass down from generation to generation vocally and catchy as well.
Now I repeat it but make it fresh with a new harmony, and change that last note around a little bit. Here it comes the last time. And then I took the idea of Dirait-on so they say as a little repeated repeated refrain. And I do it again, except to make it more interesting I offset it by one beat. It is easily memorable. And through the composition process each one of those two parts is treated in Canon and imitation with itself so someone goes And someone else goes Later on And later on in the piece where the choir sings The melody, the harmony, all come from this chord.
And yet it retained its simplicity and charm as a simple little song. I get emails from people saying I love this song how do I get it out of my mind. It was designed to go into your mind and never leave. What are the elements of a folk song? How do I tie the poem into history? Now imagine: a piece having such as in my midwinter songs, having four chords.
Every one of those chords will be explored, all the facets of that particular passage will be explored compositionally. And this is through learning and technique and an understanding of history and of craft.
Morten Lauridsen - Les chansons des roses: V. Dirait-on Lyrics
Morten Lauridsen - how he wrote “Dirait-on”