Panayiotis Kokoras (1974)

Sonic Vertigo (2003)

for mixed choir and electronic device

  • General information
    • Composition date: 2003
    • Duration: 7 mn 45 s
    • Publisher: Inédit
    • Commission: Spring Festival (Université d’York)
Detailed formation
  • mixed choir(4 soprano, 4 contralto, 4 tenor, 4 bass voice)

Premiere information

  • Date: 8 May 2003

    Angleterre, York, Sir Jack Lions Concert Hall, Spring Festival


    le York Vocal Index.

Information on the electronics
Electronic device: dispositif électronique non spécifié

Program note

This piece was written during the spring of 2003 for the York Vocal Index. In Sonic Vertigo I tried to "sonify" the moment when the ship Argo (in Greek mythology) had to pass the island of the Sirens; the moment when Orpheus with his song drowned the sound of those lovely fatal voices and so prevented the Argonauts from being lured to their destruction.

I used the sound material derived from the process of "sonification", in a rather abstract way. There are neither textual nor contextual references any more. The structure of the piece gives the sensation of an "empty" rotation and an evolution without progress, out of which the musical form is finally built.

The vocal sound sources are based on phonemes and other sounds produced by mouth such as whistles, whispers, swells, falls. The amplification of the voices causes the dividing 'edge' between tape and voices to be blurred. Formant transformations are extensively used to create a continuum between the voices and the tape.

The "vintage" sound quality of the tape part, mainly based on voice sounds with the exception of some percussive raps, intends to extend the phrasing and timbre of the voice beyond its natural acoustic means with large evolving atmospheres, massive textures and gestures. Homogeneous sounds are carefully combined by creating unique sonorities, by creating a "sonic adventure".

Panayiotis Kokoras