Exploring Polyphony - Josquin Desprez 500

Dimensions - Josquin Desprez and Karate Shotokan


How can we as people living today still understand the polyphonic music of the Renaissance?
500 years ago, the situation was different: polyphony based on Gregorian chants was heard in the church year, which was known to every believer. The music was in the direct context of a sacred building, it was often part of the worship service and tied to strong rituals. Equally strong rituals are part of martial arts; the present project is about karate shotokan, especially kata. The interplay of the two arts creates another dimension; Polyphony and karate keep their roots and can be understood individually.

In the project, a mass ordinarium by Josquin Desprez (1450-1521) - his Missa Pange Lingua - is combined with Gregorian chant and three different kata, which are performed both in silence and in parts to music. The connecting element is above all the flow of breath, which plays a decisive role in both martial arts and music, especially for the wind instruments of Capella de la Torre. On the other hand, it is the rhythm: Sometimes it connects the individual layers with the regularity of a heartbeat, sometimes as an unexpected outbreak of a new dimension. Rituals and the carefully transmitted knowledge of centuries appear in a very current light without losing the respective context.

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