[See also the page Myspace of Catherine Braslavsky]|
[And this page of YouTube videos of our work]
A Music with Roots
Inspired by Gregorian Chant, and by sacred musics from Jewish,
Muslim, Hindu, African, and other ancient traditions.
A Music with Wings
Exploring new musical approaches, with improvisation, composition, shamanic vocalizations, harmonic overtone chanting, African and Mideastern rhythms, and electro-acoustic atmospheres.
"Free of preconceptions and in great freedom, these artists have
renewed a sacred vocal art which emerges from the mists of time.
Strange, and very beautiful."
Emilia Rigarda, Le Figaro Magazine
"This superb recording is not just a clever mixture of genres. It
reaches towards the deepest origins of Western music, where the
mystery of East and West were joined, just before their separation.
In our tumultuous time, such a full expression of depth and serenity
has become an indispensable resource."
Erik Pigani, Psychologies
click here for more press reviews
Drinking at the Springs of a Lost Tradition
What are the origins of music? What is its
highest vocation in human life? Why does it affect us so powerfully?
of ancient and primitive societies show that music was originally a sacred
practice, as were the other performing arts.
researches suggest that all performing arts have their origins in shamanic
Is it possible to re-connect with these original roots, and overcome the
postmodern impasse of art as distraction, art as market commodity, or art
for art's sake?
If so, what can sacred music mean to us
now, in our world of cultural pluralism, with no common mythic or
Why should a hymn to Shiva, a Bach
oratorio, or a dervish chant be any more sacred than a saxophone
solo by John Coltrane? Do we really even need the word "sacred"
today, other than as a reference to specific religious
are a few of the thousands of questions implied by the deeper question:
what is the meaning of sacred art in a contemporary pluralist context?
The Marriage of the Heavens and the Earth
From Jerusalem to Cordoba
Un jour d'entre les jours
We offer no definite answer to this
question. But we find that the very act of asking it has an important
effect in itself. This questioning creates an opening in us, and reminds
us that in spite of its abuse and its reduction to a market commodity,
music still has the power to re-unite us with our essence, with what is
both deepest and highest in us, an experience which is both fundamental
Our approach to this quest began with our
own cultural heritage, which happens to be that of Western European
Christian civilization. We discovered that this heritage has a precious,
often-neglected seed: the capacity to be far more ecumenical, more open,
more tolerant, and more attuned to other traditions than it has typically
been. Curiously, it was in the deepest roots of Western music itself, the
Gregorian Chant, that we discovered an amazing universality. This
chant has far more in common with non-Western musics than any of the
Christian musical traditions which succeeded it.
are unaware of the fact that the true oral tradition of Gregorian Chant,
passed directly from master to student, was irretrievably lost several
centuries ago. What monks and medievalists sing today are hypothetical
reconstructions, which began in the 19th century. No one knows the
authentic manner of singing these chants. All that is left to us are the
manuscipts, yet these are somehow impregnated with the soaring aspirations
of the medieval soul.
centuries of neglect after the triumph of polyphony, these manuscripts
still astonish us with their originality and freedom of movement, their
exquisite sense of balance, evoking the sensual grace of Romanesque
architecture. It is this very originality which inspired us to "begin
again," starting from this chant, not in an effort to reconstruct, but to
re-invent a vocal music of today, a step towards an art of the natural
voice which is both new and ancient.
all these researches, we keep coming back to that beginning impression of
vast serenity in the midst of all musical movement, like the calm heart,
or the eye of witnessing inside the hurricane of life's pleasurable and
painful emotions. Everyone has felt something like this on first hearing
Gregorian chant, and it is interesting that this applies to people of
radically different musical and ethnic backgrounds. Indian musicians have
found something akin to the practice of Raga or Vedic chant, Jews and
Muslims readily sense the Middle Eastern elements, African Christians have
adapted plainchant practices in a wonderful marriage with their rhythms
... even Gospel singers and Buddhist monks have heard something in this
chant which feels akin to their own practice.
could explain this universality? Perhaps it has something to do with the
fact that the Gregorian chant is inseparable from the deepest roots of
Western music, occurring right at that mysterious juncture before the
distinction between "Eastern" and "Western" began to emerge with the
advent of harmony and polyphony.
singing the melismas of these chants over the years, it was their very
freedom and originality which inspired us to begin to improvise and
compose our own pieces in the spirit of this music. Later, we discovered
that there is strong evidence that the original chant included
improvisation. Going further still, we began to incorporate percussion and
instrumental sounds from the Middle-East, India, and Africa, and even
electronic sounds, into our own chant compositions and into chants taken
directly from ancient souces. Our work then expanded to include other
world traditions, as well as primal and shamanic vocal practices.
this great diversity of musical colors and explorations, we return
endlessly to the same unquenchable desire: to sing all the facets of our
relation to the Essential which is in us all, here and now, in sound and