for 8 or 16 digital soundtracks

Chalice Well is a holy well situated at the foot of Glastonbury Tor in southwest England, thought to be originally the island of Avalon from Arthurian legend, and the site where Joseph of Arimathea placed the chalice known as the Holy Grail. According to legend, the Tor, a masculine symbol, is hollow underneath and the entrance to the underworld, guarded by the Grail. The well, on the other hand, is a symbol of the feminine aspect of deity, and its waters are believed to possess healing qualities.

This soundscape composition takes the listener on an imaginary journey down into the well, passing through several cavernous chambers on its descent, filled with rushing and trickling water, including the chamber of the feminine spirit. The journey continues to the glass chamber, then to the gates of the underworld, only to be confronted by the image of the Grail, and finally coming to rest in the space where wind and water, the masculine and the feminine, are combined.

Chalice Well was premiered in the Sonic Lab of the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) in Belfast, in March, 2009 on their 32-speaker rig positioned on four different vertical levels, above and below the audience.

A shorter, related stereo work, Beneath the Tor (2010), takes the listener to an imaginary underground cavern beneath Glastonbury Tor in the UK. This chamber complements those visited in Chalice Well, and thus is a masculine counterpart to the feminine symbolism of that work. Beneath the Tor is dedicated to Miguel Azguime and Miso Music on the occasion of its 25th anniversary where it was premiered. Chalice Well is also the second section of The Isle of Avalon.

Chalice Well is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD, The Elements and Beyond.

Sound Example available

Spectrogram of part 4 of the work

20 files, both short and long, were convolved with each other in various combinations using SoundHack to produce about 200 hybrids, each normalized with high frequency boost, and later EQ'd with fades added. Three types of hybrids were created using the source material identified below.

I. Convolved with Granular Material

II. Convolved with Text and Vocal Material:  Thecla Schiphorst: "A well of flowing water", "A fountain of gardens"from Song of Songs; gated consonants from Norbert Ruebsaat, The Blind Man

III. Convolved with Water and other Sampled Material

Source material provided by the World Soundscape Project (trickle, locks, river, rain), David Monacchi (bubbles, splashes, and well), and Damian Keller (glass break, waterstream)

Note: Productions pages and all source and processed materials are available on a DVD-ROM from the composer (