PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Surround SOUND The Forty Part Motet

Is it possible to write about a sound installation?  A good writer can.  I am not one of those.  The best I can do is to urge anyone living in the New York area to make the effort to go to The Cloisters and listen to Janice Cardiff’s piece, The Forty Part Motet in the Fuentiduena Apse.  
Copyright Peter Mauss.
I know it’s a trek or so it seems when you think about it.  The #4 bus leaves you at the front door of the museum and the subway stop is just a couple of blocks away.

You might ask, what’s the big deal?  I’ve been to choral performances… and so have I.   The Forty Part Motet was by recorded by Cardiff in England’s Salisbury Cathedral in 2001.  Each part is recorded individually. 

Copyright Peter Mauss

When you walk around the Apse at the Cloisters, you see forty individual speakers., You can put your ear as close to the speaker  as you dare.   You can hear the music,  a sigh, a hum, even a sneeze.  The experience of the music is one of SOUND. 

Copyright Peter Mauss

Cardiff said she wanted the listener to “climb inside the music, connecting with the separate voices.”  That is exactly what happens.  You feel inside the sound.  It’s unnerving and wonderful all at the same time. 

Copyright Peter Mauss

This installation is the first contemporary presentation at The Cloisters. It’s part of their seventy-fifth birthday anniversary.  It’s a birthday present for anyone who makes the trip.  It is a little like “tripping.”

One comment

  1. The Motet Installation was at the Cleveland Museum of Art this summer. Well worth the effort to experience the beauty of both the conjoined and the singular voices.

    And The Cloisters should be visited periodically anyway.

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