The Latin word cantus refers to singing, and the expression descant means a melody in the high register, usually sung or played over a basic melody. This is a two-voice polyphonic process developed in France and Italy nearly a thousand years ago. Inspired by this ancient concept, Sarah Davachi offers 17 pieces that are contemplative, meditative, sensual, conducive to meditation and relaxation. With a few exceptions, the Californian’s new project evokes sacred music from the Baroque and pre-Baroque eras… or perhaps not, on closer inspection. The frequent use of pipe organs leads to this perception, but it’s soon clear that the minimalist linearity of the proposals, the nature of their harmonic structures, and the superimposition of other electronic or instrumental sources (mellotron, piano, modular synthesizer, voice) testify to a truly contemporary compositional thought. That being said, these works aren’t very dissonant, generally subscribing to pre-contemporary melodic scales. Their textural treatment, however, has little to do with the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. In the last few years, moreover, it’s becoming clear that the organ is making a strong comeback in the world of contemporary music (instrumental or electronic), and Sarah Davachi is certainly part of this movement, as is Canadian composer Kara-Lis Coverdale, for example. Once again, we can see the astonishing affinity between early music and contemporary music, and Sarah Davachi provides luminous proof of this.
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