Anima : [for solosits, choir, Tibetan singing bowl and handbells]
School of Creative Arts
Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities Research Institute
'Anima' makes a critical interrogation of several cosmological concepts and applies them within a musical domain, sparked by ancient and ongoing notions of the 'Music of the Spheres.' The sense of time moving, standing still and fluctuating are conveyed in the piece – a concept drawn from Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and the relationship of time and gravity. 'Anima' also gives an imagined glimpse into the 'missing' seven dimensions of String Theory – dimensions predicted to exist, but which humans cannot perceive. Specifically in 'Anima,' this shift in perception is achieved by 'stretching' the octave, whereby the solo soprano and tenor bend the octave outwards by a quarter tone in each direction to open a perceptive window into sections of new musical material in the piece, representing the 'new' dimensions. Significance derives from the enhancement of knowledge through reference to gestalt psychology and perception. Perceptual concepts of reification, multistability and invariance are used to create aural equivalents of visual phenomena. The piece also steps beyond the norms of vocal range with many top Cs and Bbs for solo soprano, and equally extreme writing in the solo tenor (performed in this recording by Rogers Covey-Crump.) The bass voices also sing equally extreme, low, rumbling notes. Again, to create a perceptive shift beyond the normal frequency range. Equally, both sum and difference tones were designed to be perceptible in the writing for the two solo sopranos to enhance the mystery of the text. While notions of gestalt have pervaded much German music from Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerke, to Stockhausen and Hoeller's formula/gestalt composition and Schenker's analytical techniques, none have addressed the perceptual concepts of gestalt psychology. The methodology here involves a critical investigation and interpretation of these generative and often ambiguous perceptual experiences from the visual to the aural domains.