End Words (CinematicVR 2D Trailer)

This is a 2D trailer for a CinematicVR/ambisonic realization of Christopher Trapani’s End Words for voices and electronics.

This project will be available for most VR headsets via Steam in April ’21.

Music : Christopher Trapani
Poems : Anis Mojgani, Ciara Shuttleworth, John Ashbery
Performers : Ekmeles
Visual Art : Maya + Rouvelle

from Maya+Rouvelle:

Our intention was to create an uncanny world where Trapani’s music, its poetry and our visuals are symbiotic. The passageway to this environment is nature, filtered through the lens of Trapani’s work; spiraling between the familiar and the dream-like.

from Christopher Trapani:

I’ve always been fascinated by the sestina:
this archaic form, thirty-nine lines
that spin out in an intricate spiral.
Six-line stanzas, with six end words
that repeat in a predetermined shape.
Those patterns were begging for music.

So I started looking for poems to set to music,
and bought an anthology of sestinas.
“The Painter” was an old favorite, and the unusual shape
of Anis Mojgani’s poem—the way he streamlines
crisp, hallucinatory images and tender words—
drew me into a propulsive yet nostalgic spiral…

Predictably, things began to spiral
out of control when I started to imagine the music
I’d devise for Ashbery’s words.
“The Painter” turned into a sort of ur-sestina
setting: I started with thirty-six lines
of related natural harmonies, laid out in the shape

of a six-by-six grid. Then I shaped
the harmonic progression as a spiral
traced through that plane, drawing curved lines
that wander though disjointed consonance—music
laid out so that adjacent stanzas of the sestina
share a repeated harmony over repeated end words.

Line numbers are embedded in the words
as durations. Another grid shapes
the map of shifting tempi—so the sestina
has influenced all the piece’s parameters. The spiral’s
hypnotic rigor invades all aspects of the music.
With the singers, I prerecorded many lines,

syllables, and effects, for the electronics—lines
to chop up and retune, and sometimes single words—
to create collages of vocal sounds. The music
for “They raised violins” started to take shape
with “bones,” “string,” “petals”— each node in the spiral

set to a unique texture. And Ciara Shuttleworth’s “Sestina”
was the perfect compact shape: just six one-syllable words
whose meanings shift as the spiral unravels, lines
that fray as the sestina thins to stark, still music.

In the Sky I Am Walking, excerpts

Below are four excerpts from the maya+rouvelle live-stream project with Ekmeles that included Karlheinz Stockhausen’s In the Sky I Am Walking (1972). The full performance and additional information/writing about the project can be found here.

Performed by
Charlotte Mundy, Soprano
Elisa Sutherland, Mezzo Soprano

Charles Mueller, Audio Engineer

We created visual art/video/titling/staging elements for this special event, streamed live from the singers’ home in Brooklyn, NY.

LOVE SONG (Nootka)

No matter how hard I try
to forget you,
you always
come back to my mind,
and when you hear me singing you may know
I am weeping for you.


Don’t you ever,
You up in the sky,
Don’t you ever get tired
Of having the clouds between you and us?


Wake up, woman,
Rise up, woman,
In the middle of the street,
A dog howls.
May the death arrive
May the dance arrive
Comes the dance
You must dance,
Comes the death
You can’t help it!
Ah! what a chill,
Ah! what a wind….


Friends, behold!
Sacred I have been made.
Friends, behold!
In a sacred manner
I have been influenced
At the gathering of the clouds.
Sacred I have been made,
Friends, behold!
Sacred I have been made.