Humans are deeply fascinated by the cosmos, contemplating the birth of mother earth, surmising about the afterlife, devising methods to harness divine power and imagining what exists in “outer-space”. The human voice is the primordial tool to connect with the divine. Ascetics, shamans, priests and witches invoke spiritual chants and prayers to positively access and harness cosmological energy. Artists also believe they are conduits channeling this energy to manifest creation on the earthly plane. These represent terrestrial interpretations of consciousness and the soul, spiritual, religious or personal, as humans confront mortality, ponder the metaphysical and the interconnectedness of all things.
Based on the notion that the essence of the universe is composed of sound as vibration, I present our interstellar friends with “Incantare Mundana”: a mix-up of human voice, nature sounds, music and noise, in contradistinction to formal western music for which I have received theoretical training. The title of the work pays homage to discourse concerning the music of the spheres (musica mundana), conceiving of a cosmos ordered according to Pythagorean and Neoplatonic ideas.
Turning our consideration to the effect of music (and sound) on the soul and as a reflection of cosmic harmony, Pythagoras’ sublime speculations about sidereal harmonics and world harmony envisage the planetary bodies traversing the sky in a colossal cosmic chant. The music of the spheres imagines a universe where the revolution of each planet produces a distinctive tone, and this tonal harmony of the spheres creates a well-defined musical scale. Cosmic and musical structures are considered to express the same mathematical ratios proportioned by unequal but specific intervals. Predating the birth of Christ, this philosophy permeated thought throughout the Middle Ages, and research continues into different musical tunings and temperaments.
“Incantare” is the Latin word “to enchant”, and the derivation for the English word incantation. It references the human voice, subject matter of the field recordings, central to the composition of this sound piece.
Incantare Mundana is a poetic collection of chants, prayers and incantations personally recorded as I traversed the earth in search of the sacred. Japanese Buddhist Monks in Kyoto and Shinto Shrine Bells (bells awaken the spirits), Hindi sermons in Roman Churches, Russian prayers at Kazanski Cathedral in St Petersburg, Italian hymns intoned at The Vatican, the sweet voices of French Nuns in Paris, throat singing from the harmonic Gyuto Monks of Tibet and sacred musical sounds of the dancing Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul, Turkey.
In a time where fear dominates and humans confront planetary survival in this great cosmic disco, may this sonic offering impart a message of peace from mother earth and propel us towards a positive future paradigm!
Composed and Produced by Benjamin Skepper Recorded by Benjamin Skepper Engineered by Benjamin Skepper and Yasuho Matsubara Mastered by Yasuho Matsubara
℗ & © 2014 contrapuntal & Benjamin Skepper All rights reserved.
Benjamin Skepper has garnered globally respect as a multi-talented creator and visionary: musician, composer, fashion model, Cultural Ambassador and Multi-Media artist.
A child prodigy, touring as a classical pianist, harpsichordist and cellist internationally by 10, Benjamin has independently forged his own creative path focusing on contemporary sound and composition, interdisciplinary collaborations and site-specific and multimedia installation. He has recorded for labels including Colombia Music and Ninja Tunes, written music for film and TV, received commissions from Electrolux, Dom Pérignon, Yohji Yamamoto and The Victorian Arts Centre, lived as an artist-in-residence at The French Embassy Tokyo, played in Palaces and Museums across Europe, and exhibited sound installations alongside avant-garde artists such as Yoko Ono.
Committed to harnessing the power of art and culture to effect social change, Benjamin is co-developing the first ever artist-in-residency program for Australian artists with the Australian Ambassador in Moscow, and continues his research collaborations into the intersections between science, technology, art and synaesthesia.
“Embodying classical aesthetic, music and culture, Benjamin Skepper is a musician with an extraordinary sense of the contemporary” (Rolling Stone Italy 2011)
“Worldly, experimental and blurring the lines between visual art, music and other art forms, Benjamin Skepper’s performance at MOFO embodied the festival and the MONA brand” (ArtsHub 2013)
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