In Illo Tempore

In Illo Tempore explores technological futurism, our musical past, and mythical time. “In illo tempore” is Latin for “in that time,” a term used by Mircea Eliade to describe the time before recorded history. The piece contrasts twenty-first century technology—musical robots—with a quotation from Monteverdi’s Missa in illo tempore (1610). In addition to saxophone and bassoon, In Illo Tempore features the musical robots AMI (Automated Monochord Instrument) and CARI (Cylindrical Aerophone Robotic Instrument) built by Expressive Machines Musical Instruments (EMMI).

In Illo Tempore begins with a drone produced through electromagnetic actuation of AMI’s open string, which slowly draws the listener into a timeless world. As CARI joins this texture, modulation of these instruments’ timbre produces rhythms within their overtones. The saxophone and bassoon interact with these drones by modulating sustained pitches with vibrato, tremolo, flutter tongue, and internal beating produced by multiphonics. A brief rapid and rhythmic section in the middle of the piece, based on the harmonic motion of the Kyrie from Monteverdi’s Mass, punctuates the stasis. A final section features the six voices from the Kyrie arranged for saxophone and bassoon over algorithmically generated swelling dyads performed by AMI and CARI. The slow tempo of this section combined with the shifting harmonic swells produces a sense of temporal suspension.

In Illo Tempore was commissioned by the EAR Duo and is recorded by David Wegehaupt (saxophone) and Dana Jessen (bassoon) on the album Mythical Spaces, which was released by Ravello Records in 2018.


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