Vox Organalis is a project based on tradition: it is a meditation on the ancient cultures and  knowledge that dwell the places where we were lucky enough to work.

This first rendition of the project was commissioned by IIC Paris (Italian Institute of Culture in Paris) along with the request of spending an entire month in their charming headquarters to produce an original work. Our proposal soon became to investigate the origins of European musical tradition: the early Polyphony of Notre-Dame, dated back to 1200.

Francesco Orio and I are musicians with a good knowledge in that field: I am a composer trained in antique counterpoint while Francesco sings and studies Gregorian chant, but our main musical activity has to do with improvised music: in order to accomplish our goals we had to study and meditate extensively, eventually coming up with some strategies that are now part of the Vox Organalis canon.

Our starting point was the transcription we made of some of the early repertoire: Gregorian chant, Perotin and Johannes Ockeghem, with the purpose of playing these transcriptions with our instruments instead of the human voice, giving us the chance to “touch” the structures of such an ancient music, so far from our usual repertoire. We noticed that the oral way of composing – typical of a historical period where orality and writing were equally important – and the modern sense of improvisation share many aspects, first of all a sense of adventure and discovery. The cycle of recordings called Ars Memoriae is a summa of this way to proceed using transcriptions, graphic scores and improvising with the repertoire.

Of course, the main care in vocal music is the text, an element that we needed to develop in some way: using the text of Viderunt Omnes as the only base for our work, a clear and evident homage to Perotin and his long cycle, we started to collect “actors” that could read or sing from original latin as well as some translation in other languages. We had the pleasure to host Francesca Gaza as singer but we also “stole” some voices from the students at the IIC, with their tone of voice, timbre  and pronunciation. I personally first catalogued and then assembled all this material in the two big electroacoustic compositions called Déploration whose structures are based on the forms that Perotinus used in his cycle of polyphonic organa; drones, faux bourdons, canons, minimalistic approach are all borrowed from the Master and dedicated to two of the main and most famous places for early polyphony: Notre-Dame de Paris and St. Martial de Limoges.

With the help of Francesco, I set up a complex system to record sounds that allowed us to use the real live spaces such as churches (St Sulpice and others), ancient hallways and bell towers as structural elements in order to create a link between the present and the past. This produced the series Les Mémoires Acoustiques, where ancient techniques are mixed to the real sonic features of those places.

Luca Perciballi

Luca Perciballi: composition, field recordings, guitar, effects, voice.

Francesco Orio: sound engineer, field recordings, piano, table top guitar, effects, voice.