Planctus III (2012)
Carson Cooman, hammerchord
Duration: 5.75 min.
Dedication: in memoriam William Duckworth
Publisher: Soundspells Productions
Planctus III (2012) for hammerchord was written in memory of American composer William Duckworth (1943–2012).
Planctus (noun, Latin) – Medieval style of song and poetry of a lamenting character.
They were sung both in Latin and in the vernacular (common language), treated both religious and secular subjects, and were popular throughout Europe.
This work is a “fierce lament” in the tradition of an old Irish “caoine.” A simple melody is surrounded by repeated cluster-based chords.
The music was written for a musical instrument invented in 2002 by Robert Cunningham of Atlanta, Georgia. The Cunningham Hammerchord (U.S. Patent #6740800) is a keyboard-based stringed instrument employing a unique hammered striking mechanism to produce a tremolo sound reminiscent of the hammered dulcimer or the balalaika. The inventor describes it as follows: “A finger presses a key on the instrument, a hammer propels upward from a string and returns immediately downward from a back-check attached to the key. The hammer then strikes the string and rebounds in tremolo sounding of the note. The speed and pressure of finger touch set the loudness of the note, as in the piano, and the desired tremolo tempo.”