Thursday, December 17, 2015

Different Notes --- Day 4/311

Walk: Marin Driving Day
Distance: Not much, small home yoga

Ciwt had an interesting encounter with music the other day at Fort Mason Center here in San Francisco.  She and a friend went to The Forty Part Motet, a sound installation by artist Janet Cardiff.  Entering the space they found it naked except for forty speakers placed in a large oval and standing at ear level.  When the music, Spem in Alium,* by Thomas Tallis, began each speaker played just one individual voice recorded from the Salisbury Cathedral Choir and listeners could place themselves in the center of the choir and let the waves of sound wash over them.  Or they could move closer to the speaskers and hear single choral voice. The path to listening was chosen individually and the experience was entirely personal.

More personal than Ciwt at first imagined!  She had been immersed in the, for her, moving sounds - at times finding tears spontaneously arising.  She thought the experience emotionally touching and beautiful. But when she met up with her friend at the end of the performance loop, she learned her friend was captivated by the music but not particularly (or at all?) moved.  Her friend has extensive experience recording sound tracks, so what she found herself doing was visualizing the length of the sounds and space between them as they would look on a recording track.

Or something like that.  The point being that Ciwt and her friend had had two absolutely different relationships with Cardiff's installation.  And, Ciwt began to realize, this was probably true of every individual in the room with her and all those around the world who have experienced the installation as it has toured internationally.

What about you?  The link above brings you to a short video and listener comments on the Motet's installation at the Venice Architectural Biennale 2010.  Ciwt wonders how you will relate to it.**

*Spem in Alium, a Forty Part Motet by Elizabethan Thomas Tallis (c. 1505 - 1585) was composed to celebrate the 40th birthday of Queen Elizabeth I and first performed at Nonsuch Palace ca. 1750.

**Online are several complete versions, such this one, of 'Spem in Alium'

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