Sound: Meredith Monk’s ‘Our Lady of Late’

Meredith Monk performing 'Our Lady of Late', 1972

Meredith Monk’s, ‘Our Lady of Late’ was performed in 1975 at the Naropa Institute, Boulder, Colorado. Abstract and pre-verbal in character, it was composed in 1972 as a harmonic piece for a single voice and glass. A number of reworkings have surfaced in recent years, perhaps most notably Nick Hallett’s performance at the New Museum, New York, in May 2009. Hallett’s description of the event follows.

The performer begins by singing in unison with the fingered glass, then gradually diverging from the pitch in microtonal increments, which results in the phenomenon of “beats,” rhythmic pulses that are created in the interference patterns of two waveforms. Eventually, vibrato is added into the mix. In this way, Our Lady of Late introduces its audience to “extended vocal technique,” wherein the singer explores a diverse vocabulary of sounds and performative states.

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