Sarah Palermo | Composer | Songwriter | Music Theorist

  Songs of Motion

SATB a cappella
Text: Isaac Newton
(in progress)
This set of madrigals is the direct result of attending my college composition studio. Every couple of weeks, the composition majors at Westminster get together and have the chance to meet composers, music theorists, and professors; and listen to their music or research topics. One week, Melissa Dunphy, a contemporary composer, visited our school and showed us several of her works. The two pieces that affected me were "What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?” and The Gonzales Cantata. Both pieces were set using rather nontraditional texts, the first being excerpts from the public testimony of Phillip Spooner before the Maine senate, and the second based on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Listening to more of Dunphy’s work opened my eyes to all the possibilities of texts I could set, aside from my own lyrics and poetry in the public domain. I turned to one of my favorite subjects in high school: physics.
Isaac Newton’s laws of motion explain how objects interact with one another and move. I chose to set them to music because there are so many possibilities of how to interpret motion in musical ways. It was also my first time setting a text in another language. When Newton was alive, all serious academic work was written in classical Latin, so the pronunciation was slightly different from the liturgical Latin commonly used in the Catholic mass texts. To reflect the age of the text, I incorporated a similar form of counterpoint that would have been heard in music of the time, but with a hearty dose of modal mixture for a modern sound.
Marisa Curcio, Soprano
Sarah Palermo, Alto
John Maenhout, Tenor
Robert Lamb, Bass 

Text by Isaac Newton, from Axiomata sive Leges Motus, Philosopha Naturalis Principia Mathematica.

Lex I: Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus a viribus impressis cogitur statum illum mutare.

Lex III: Actioni contrariam semper et aequalem esse reactionem sive corporum duorum actiones in se mutuo semper esse aequales et in partes conrarias dirigi.

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All music and lyrics contained on this website by Sarah Palermo unless otherwise noted.
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