Both Rilke poems, ‘Again and again‘ and ‘Do you still remember‘, are set to illuminate the mood of the text through harmony and texture
‘Again and again’ gives the full text of the poem to the basses in a 5-note ostinato which continues through the entire piece.
‘Do you still remember’ uses a 2-against-3 meter when the narrator observes the disjointed movement of falling stars, aligns briefly at the poem’s climax (‘our heart felt like a single thing’), then disintegrates again.
For Paradise Lost (Book V, lines 1-47), I took a quasi-formulaic approach, which allowed me to set long sections of text easily and cohesively while still allowing for artistic decisions within the constraints. Instead of composing a new melody for each phrase, I came up with a single long melodic line which was chopped up and set to each phrase according to its length. Elements of the text itself (punctuation, narrator, and key words) informed my decisions about rests, structure, and harmony. The chant sections correspond to the narrator’s portion of the text, while the melodic sections corresponds to a character’s speech given in the text.