IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 907: Margery's Times: Margery through the Looking Glass

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 19.30-20.30

Organiser:Jenna Mead, University of Western Australia

This session explores aspects of time and temporality in the writings of the English mystic, Margery Kempe (1373-1438), through the medium of a soundscape. The work draws on text, music and sounds to create an experience of the past through the ears of the present. In addition to readings from the Proem, Preface and two books of Kempe, the soundscape incorporates recordings of medieval music from 1965 and 1975, which are in themselves already historical: Medieval English Lyrics (Frank Harrison) and Music of the Gothic Era (David Munrow).
The collage of sounds is put together using layering – an apt correspondence with music of Kempe’s times, which was primarily linear. In addition, the common medieval technique of a tenor is used. The use of this structurally fundamental or ‘holding’ voice is applied to a key sentence from the Proem, which is repeated, varied and incrementally extended. The work meditates on the notion of temporality by using voice, music, and sound to represent the way time structures Margery’s book. This work is a collaboration that, in its own production, references some of the relationships that produced Margery Kempe’s own book.

Participating in this session are the co-authors of the soundscape, Helen English (School of Music and Drama, University of Newcastle, New South Wales) and Jenna Mead (School of English, University of Tasmania)