Vox naturae

Composition Date: 1996
Duration: 00:20:00
Genre: Choral (9 + Voices), A Capella


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 3 x Mixed chorus
Programme Note:
When Chifuru Matsubara asked me to write a piece for the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus , he suggested that the theme of the text might be nature, and the language, Latin. I immediately thought of Lucretius' poem De Rerum Naturae...
In Book IV he describes the various senses and how they operate. His discussion of how sound is engendered and heard if especially interesting. For him, sound flows out of the speaker's or singer's mouth to the listener's ear not (as currently believed) in the form of waves, but rather as a string of atoms. Those that miss their mark are carried away by the breezes and disappear unless they strike a surface which reflects them back, sometimes in a muddled or distorted form. Today we reject the "atomic theory" of sound, forgetting, perhaps, that light is explained as consisting of both waves and particles, and there are equations in which either theory can be made to work.
Lucretius was both a scientist and a poet, Having explained matters scientifically he extends his work in vivid poetry, for instance, when he describes echoes as the voices of nymphs, satyrs and fauns, led by the god Pan, mocking the world of humans from hidden places...
My treatment of lines 549-595 of De Rerum Naturae is illustrative in the same way Monteverdi and other frequently illustrated the texts they employed. For this purpose three choirs are used: the stage choir which states the scientific theories, a choir in the hall, reflecting or distorting the statements of the stage choir to illustrate the theory being described; and a backstage choir of satyrs and nymphs.
For this reason I call the work Vox Naturea, literally "the voices of nature".


  • Call Number:
  • MV 6000 S296vo
  • Genre:
  • Choral (9 + Voices), A Capella
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • May 26, 2014
  • Type:
  • Print-music, published
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (31 p.) ; 28 cm.
    31 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Depth: 1 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Commissioned by the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus (1997) and dedicated to Chifuru Matsubara.
    Contains a section of De Rerum Naturae by Lucretius.
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Vox naturae
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