The first piece Joanna ever wrote was about Hildegard. Convent Window, an unaccompanied work for solo tuba, was composed for Zigzags, meant to call to mind a moment of quiet contemplation. Joanna felt we needed more unaccompanied pieces for the lower part of the tuba register, and that were not terribly difficult. Both of her solo albums O quam mirabilis and Zigzags feature solo tuba arrangements of Hildegard’s chant.
After composing Convent Window, Joanna published this set of Three Medieval Songs for unaccompanied tuba, trombone or euphonium, a collection with two works by Hildegard, together with a song by Beatriz de Dia, a contemporary of Hildegard. Another of Joanna’s re-imaginings of Hildegard’s work, O Greening Branch, this time with an optional electronic backing, is also available.
These examples of Medieval song and monophonic chant would have originally been composed without bar-lines or detailed rhythmic notation. They would have been learned by rote and sung by the nuns at the convents, or the troubadours on the road, perhaps with the addition of a second harmonic line, a bass drone, or instrumental accompaniment, which would have been improvised. The performer today should feel free to choose rhythms and tempos which suit you, and add dynamics as you see fit.
Thank you to the International Tuba Euphonium Association for selecting Convent Window for the 2021 Tuba Solo Competition, over 65 age category, and Three Medieval Songs for both Solo Tuba and Solo Euphonium in the 18 and under category.