The best way to listen to Thomas Tallis

I was talking to a friend of mine today, who reminded me of an excellent art installation I had the fortune to catch when I was in New York in December 2005.

The installation is called 40-Part Motet, and is by an artist called Janet Cardiff. The installation takes a special recording of a piece by Thomas Tallis, called Spem in Alium, and allows each of the 40 parts or voices its own speaker. These speakers are arrayed around the room and allow you to truly be surrounded by this incredible piece of music.

I came across a video recording of the installation at MOMA in New York. This video really does not do justice to the music or the situation. The glory of the installation was being able to sit in the dead centre and be immersed in complete surround sound, or alternatively to get up and walk around, to pass each speaker and hear the individual voice rise in the speaker as you passed it. If you want to truly appreciate the power of this piece, well, you’re just going to have to go to Canada to hear it!

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