“Neri occhi di luna”
for three sopranos
based on popular Native American texts
The musical and textual materials from which the composition begins and unravels come from a collection of songs by Henri Membertou.
Chief Henri Membertou (1507 – 1611), also known as Kjisaqmaw Maupeltu, was the sakmow (Great Chief) of the Mi’kmaq nation, a tribe located near Port Royal, in the first French settlement in Acadia, now Nova Scotia, Canada ; they were the first nation to enter into relations with European settlers in Canada.
Three Membertou songs survived in written form and constitute the earliest evidence of traditional Native American music.
They were transcribed in traditional notation by the French poet Marc Lescarbot in the early 17th century.
The melodies use three notes, originally transcribed as Re-Fa-Sol, but more frequently as A-Do-Re.