Delirium Potastis is Latin for a “given delirium,” poetically stirred up by the consequences of war (the theme suggested by the Thelema Trio for their commission) in which ordinary soldiers are both purveyors and victims of gunfire, landmines, bombs, and other forms of death. Despite the harsh reality, they try to reach inner peace by singing their incomprehension and guilt in the midst of the violence and darkness surrounding them: “I moan like a culprit, fault blushes my face, begging Thee, forgive, O Lord.” The graphic and sonorous representation expressed in the musical ideas is “seen” in the numerous onomatopoeias that punctuate the discourse.
Technically, the harmony is based on Sequence 1 of the Mass for the Dead of the Roman Catholic Liturgy, Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). The Dorian mode is presented both horizontally and vertically, creating an accumulation of fourths, minor sevenths and major ninths that suggest an apparent dissolution of the leading-tone’s attractive poles. It then seeks to articulate the ideas within the octave’s relative unity by embracing the range of the largest tempered neumatic juxtapositions in the Gregorian text also by pushing them toward a goal, i.e. what that gesture could rhythmically become.
The Thelema Trio will premiere Delirium in 2017.