The Forty Part Motet


The Forty Part Motet


40 loud speakers mounted on stands, placed in an oval, amplifiers, playback computer

14 min. loop with 11 min. of music and 3 min. of intermission

Janet Cardiff

The Forty Part Motet (A reworking of “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis 1573)

Forty separately recorded voices are played back through forty speakers strategically placed throughout the space.

Comments by the artist:
“While listening to a concert you are normally seated in front of the choir, in traditional audience position. With this piece I want the audience to be able to experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers. Every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. Enabling the audience to move throughout the space allows them to be intimately connected with the voices. It also reveals the piece of music as a changing construct. As well I am interested in how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space.

I placed the speakers around the room in an oval so that the listener would be able to really feel the sculptural construction of the piece by Tallis. You can hear the sound move from one choir to another, jumping back and forth, echoing each other and then experience the overwhelming feeling as the sound waves hit you when all of the singers are singing.”


  • Sung by: Salisbury Cathedral Choir
  • Recording and Postproduction by: SoundMoves
  • Edited by: George Bures Miller
  • Produced by: Field Art Projects

Related Press