Ex Tenebris Lux: Senior Honors Recital in Composition Open Access

Potts, Benjamin McCrea (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/cz30pt06p?locale=en


The title of this thesis identifies the feature component of Benjamin Potts' honors recital
in composition, which took place on April 3, 2010. The audio file of the entire recital is
entitled Potts_04-03-10.mp3 and can be accessed at Emory University's Woodruff
Library. Ex Tenebris Lux is a thirty-minute, five-movement musical work for string quartet,
vocal octet, piano, and electronics. It aims to capture the universal human experience of
pain, suffering, and the desire for a better world. Through the employment of both modern
and traditional compositional techniques, the composer illuminates the perpetual cyclical
process of creation, corruption, and renewal that characterizes the development and evolution
of life in our universe. The first movement depicts the formation of the Earth out of chaos.
Musical ideas slowly revolve and merge closer and closer together, until they finally achieve
one body in unison. The second movement chronicles a "descent into darkness," from
primeval energy and optimism into a distorted, heavy, and oppressive reality. The third
movement features the human voice, crying out against this darkness, unable to escape it.
Amidst the sorrow, there is a faint plea for mercy in the form of a Latin prayer. Movement
four is a transitional section that portrays the ascent from a place of sorrow and darkness into
joy and light. The piano begins by playing a single note each second, signifying the passage
of time in the depths before a gradual breaking away. The final climax of the fourth
movement leads directly into the fifth movement, which embodies a common hope for glory,
paradise, heaven, or simply a more perfect world. The Latin prayer from the third movement
is fully developed into a contrapuntal passage, which then gives way to an ostinato that gains
energy and momentum until the work's climax. The final echoes of the "Lux Aeterna" instill
a sense of renewal, rest, and repose. After the long journey and struggle, joy is found--Ex
Tenebris Lux: from darkness, light.

Table of Contents

Ex Tenebris Lux Table of Contents:

  1. Movement I - Prima Luce - page 1
  2. Movement II - Descensus - page 21
  3. Movement III - Despero - page 35
  4. Movement IV - Ascension - page 40
  5. Movement V - Lux Aeterna - page 45

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