On the Operations of the Sun


Version A: Live screening-performance (2011)

SSAATTBB choir (unaccompanied) with live-screening of synchronized, digital animation. Duration c.9’.

First performance: Musica Beata (cond. Tom Hammond-Davies), Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, 2011.

Version B: 12-channel sound/video installation (2013).

Exhibited as part of Nicholas Brown’s solo exhibition, From Birdsong to Light, Hungate Medieval Art, Norwich, May 25 - June 16, 2013.

Drawing of the South Rose at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Ⓒ Nicholas Brown

Programme Notes

On the Operations of the Sun explores the interrelations between science, music and architecture with reference to medieval thought and the development of Western polyphony. The title comes from De Operationibus Solis, a tract by thirteenth-century philosopher, Robert Grosseteste. The structure of the piece derives from the South Rose Window of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. A computer animation of the window’s tracery was programmed in order to determine the ‘progression’ of the voices through the performance, from the ‘centre’ to the ‘circumference’. The use of a computer model during the process of composition resembles architectural practice: the animation makes a spatial proposition - a ‘blueprint’ for each singer to ‘inhabit’ and make real. For Grosseteste, light was the first form of things. Here, the tracery of a rose window gives structure to the sound of twelve voices.

Live performance at the Three Choirs Festival, Worcester, 2011
Audio excerpt

Installation version (2013)

Score excerpt