TEMPLE (2002)

a soundscape composition for eight or sixteen digital soundtracks

Temple is an 8- or 16-track soundscape composition composed of choral voices that takes place in the reverberant cathedral of San Bartolomeo, in Busetto, Italy. However, lacking any specific Christian reference, the work can be heard as a spiritual voyage in an imaginary temple whose acoustic properties not only reverberate the choral voices but reflect them back as ghostly after-images that suggest an inner space of vast dimensions, as suggested in the installation The Isle of Avalon.

Original voice recordings by counter-tenor David Garfinkle, alto Sue McGowan, and bass Derrick Christian.

Note: the 16- and 8-channel versions of this work were created with Richmond Sound Design's AudioBox computer-controlled diffusion system.

Temple is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD, Spirit Journies. A complete documentation analysis of the work is also available on a DVD-ROM.

Spectrogram Analysis from the opening section of the work, which is part of the author's Documentation Analysis DVD

Note: Sung notes from 3 singers are used separately or digitally mixed into chords, each of which is convolved with the impulse response from Busetto Cathedral. All of these materials are also auto-convolved (i.e. convolved with itself) which lengthens the sound by a factor of two, and removes weak spectral components. The effect is a sound that is half way between the original voice and the reverberation of the cathedral.  In the production score every track with the voice convolved with the impulse response is paired with its auto-convolved version (which is also convolved with the impulse response), thereby producing the "ghostly after-image" referred to in the notes. The spectrum of each chord and its after-image can be seen in the above spectrogram. A complete documentation of all materials, convolutions, tracks and spectrograms is available on the DVD-ROM.

Sound Example available


"Temple is composed of sounds made by three vocalists inside the cathedral of San Bartolomeo in Busetto, Italy. Rather than emphasizing the human texture of these voices, Truax's piece takes us on a tour of the cathedral's reverberatory nooks and ambient crannies, focusing on the interplay between voice, space, and object. The disembodied yet perceptibly human tones created through this process results in a thoughtful exploration of the human spirit, and a study of that spirit's ability to reach beyond the confines of the body when inspired by sacred space." Kristiana Clemens, Musicworks, 88, 2004.

Technical note

The work was mainly realized using Tom Erbe's SoundHack convolution program, with additional material provided by the composer's PODX system which incorporates the DMX-1000 Digital Signal Processor controlled by a PDP Micro-11 computer with software for real-time granular synthesis and signal processing (such as digital resonators) developed by the composer in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. The sounds were recorded on 8-track digital tape and the AudioBox, and mixed in the Sonic Research Studio at SFU. Original impulse response file (of San Bartolomeo Cathedral, in Busetto, Italy) provided by Worldwide Soundspace library, some of which is now available in Peak's "Impulseverb" for OSX.