On the Operations of the Sun

(2011-21)

9’

Unaccompanied choir (SSSAAATTTBBB) with synchronized screening of a digital animation.

Version 1 (2011)

Live Performance with Video Screening

Commissioned by Musica Beata for performance at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, 2011 (cond. Tom Hammond-Davies)

Programme Notes

On the Operations of the Sun explores the interrelations between science, music and architecture in medieval thought. The title comes from De Operationibus Solis by the thirteenth-century philosopher, Robert Grosseteste. For Grosseteste, light was the first form of things. In this work, the tracery of the South Rose Window at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris gives compositional form to the sounds of twelve voices.

A computer animation of the window’s stone tracery, from the centre to the circumference, was first programmed in Processing software. The x/y coordinates of each rose petal were then mapped to MaxMSP to determine a rough draft of the pitch progression of each voice.

This use of a computer model as part of the compositional process reflects contemporary architectural practice. The digital animation acts as a spatiotemporal proposition for musical processes. It is a ‘blueprint’ for each singer to reify in sound during the course of the performance.

Audio excerpt


Score sample

Score sample for perusal only


Version 2 (2013)

12-channel sound & video installation.


In 2013, I made an installation version of the work to be featured in a solo exhibition of my sound installations at Hungate Medieval Art, Norwich (From Birdsong to Light, May 25 - June 16, 2013). The video documentation above shows the installation in situ at St Peter Hungate, Norwich.