21 Songs, 1 Hour 7 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Songs of Ascension was originally performed in a tower in California's Sonoma County that was created by visual artist Ann Hamilton. The eight-story structure has two spiraling staircases that meet at the apex, so the tower was a perfect setting for a piece dealing with themes of ascension. Songs has been performed in other locations, and in 2011 ECM released a recording of the work. Several different groups are represented: Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble (which includes accompanying woodwinds, percussion, and violin), the Todd Reynolds Quartet (a string group), the vocal ensemble The M6, and the Montclair State University Singers. Some of the piece’s 21 movements present recurring ideas. For example, there are three “Clusters” sections, which feature pitches in close proximity rubbing up against one another. Songs has a powerful ending. The penultimate movement, “Fathom,” finds Monk accompanying herself with a shruti box (an Indian bellows instrument); on “Ascent,” the album’s instrumental and vocal groups come together to bring the piece to a grand close.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Songs of Ascension was originally performed in a tower in California's Sonoma County that was created by visual artist Ann Hamilton. The eight-story structure has two spiraling staircases that meet at the apex, so the tower was a perfect setting for a piece dealing with themes of ascension. Songs has been performed in other locations, and in 2011 ECM released a recording of the work. Several different groups are represented: Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble (which includes accompanying woodwinds, percussion, and violin), the Todd Reynolds Quartet (a string group), the vocal ensemble The M6, and the Montclair State University Singers. Some of the piece’s 21 movements present recurring ideas. For example, there are three “Clusters” sections, which feature pitches in close proximity rubbing up against one another. Songs has a powerful ending. The penultimate movement, “Fathom,” finds Monk accompanying herself with a shruti box (an Indian bellows instrument); on “Ascent,” the album’s instrumental and vocal groups come together to bring the piece to a grand close.

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