Netwerk, Aalst, 2014 ©N.Field


In December 2014, Nicolas was invited by the Belgian art centre Netwerk Aalst to present a new installation as part of the collective sound art exhibition “Orkest!“. For this new installation, he immediately thought of Johannes Ockeghem’s Missa Cuiusvis Toni. Indeed, this mass written for four voices (cantus, counter-tenor, tenor and bass) that can be sung alternately in the four different church modes without having to be rearranged literally transcends the idea of the orchestra.

« All Tones » was created in collaboration with musician Michael Schmid, flutist and member of contemporary music ensemble Ictus. Their idea was to create an evolving sound space where the spectator/listener would be able to create - by wondering through the space - his own version of the piece. The whole challenge was to simultaneously play the four recordings (in the different modes) of the Missa Cuiusvis Toni on a selection of carefully positioned traditional and directional speakers.
A big part of the work consisted in mixing, aligning and spatialising the four masses as well as choosing the correct positions for the speakers within the space.

The room itself became an instrument of sorts as the music and sound would reveal the architecture of the space.

As he wondered through the space, the visitor would create his own and unique listening pattern, by listening more specifically to one, to two or to the pilling up of several versions, thus revealing the micro-temporal shifts in a quasi microtonal way. By doing so, the visitor would start to hear a fifth voice emerge, almost mirage like, coming out of the layered versions. That fifth voice would only reveal itself with the visitor’s presence and his active listening. Something Ockeghem, during his lifetime, would only have been able to dream of.