Sequenza III for female voice (Berio)

Revision cards for Sequenza by Berio. Music AS set work 2011



  • Avant-garde work
  • Written in 1966
  • Virtuosity
  • Extended vocal techniques
  • Challenging conventional language and music i.e. including walking, muttering etc
  • Performances are rare, and would usually be performed at specialist modern music events
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Rhythm and Metre

  • No traditional time signature or metre
  • The score is divided into 10 second segments, but timings are flexible
  • Long and short durations, which are not notated traditionally
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Melody and Word-setting

  • Rare conventionally sung passages with clearly defined interval or pitches
  • Forms of voice production used: Muttering, laughing, tongue clicks, coughs, sighs, trills, tremolos and cupping of hand over mouth

- Dramatic changes in mood

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Word-setting - Marc Kutter Poem

  • The "lyrics" are taken from a poem by Marc Kutter
  • The poem is frequently dislocated and subjected to various treatments:

- Rare use of a complete phrase

- Choosing words to make up new phrases ("sing to me")

- Splitting up words or changing component sounds ("Woman" becomes "wo-u-man"

- Changing or removing phonemes to makes new words ("sing" becomes "sin", and "me" becomes "we")

- Splitting words into seperate phonemes ("truth" becomes "t-r-uth")

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  • No harmony as such, although Berio described a "sequence of harmonic fields"
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  • Atonal, with no fixed relationship of pitches to one another. No cadences or section breaks.
  • The performer is not necessarily obliged to sing the passages with notated five line staves at the correct pitch
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  • Episodic structure. Random succession of ideas and moodsindicated by such directions as "anxious", "urgent", "very excited" and "frantic". 

0'00" The enterance of the woman

0'21" Illustrations of her contrasting moods

1'48" rather disturbed singing

4'29" The first anxiety attack

5'16" Calming dow a little, but building up

6'49" The second anxiety attack (climax)

7'26" A return to a still precarious state of mind

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  • Monophonic
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  • Graphic score, with only approxiamte indications of time values and pitches

- Popular in the 1960s

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incredibly useful

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