I’ve been pondering the way music reaches back and forth across the centuries. I’ve been thinking about how the kind of music that nuns and monks would have been familiar with has enjoyed a renewed interest in the last twenty or thirty years, although music as a discipline and as an art form has evolved considerably since the time of, for example, Gregorian chant. I believe that most of the music of that period was composed to be sung in praise of God – and would therefore be of a high level of coherence.
Several years ago, I came across a recording which intrigued and fascinated me – and this was before the Nun Karma Repatterning was even a twinkle in someone’s eyes. The recording is called Vision — the Music of Hildegard von Bingen and is actually a collaboration between Hildegard of Bingen (a 12th century nun) and Richard Souther, a contemporary American musician and sound designer. Essentially the recording was made in stages – first the chants of Hildegard were recorded in women’s voices in chapel settings, and then Souther added instrumental tracks of a more contemporary style. The effect for the listener is quite engaging, even startling: the pure vocal clarity of the chant is backed up by rhythmic, harmonic and percussive effects that Hildegard could not have imagined.
So what was it about Hildegard’s music that captured Richard Souther’s imagination so completely? My brother, who is somewhat of a classical music purist, regards this recording as a kind of bastardization of Hildegard’s music, but for me, the synthesis of the old and the new really attracts me – I love listening to this recording! In no way does this joint effort diminish Hildegard’s musical accomplishment. Rather, her genius, speaking down through the centuries through her poetry and music, has inspired a 20th century co-creation of a whole new work of art.