Daniel Biro ‘Shir Hadash’
A collection of a-cappella gospel-inspired works for voices and electronics.
Featuring three vocalists from the Elastic Theatre Ensemble led by Jacek Ludwig Scarso, ‘Shir Hadash’ (‘A New Song’ in Hebrew) combines the timeless immediacy of pattern-based gospel harmonies with contemporary electronic sound processing. The piece was first performed at Kings Place, London in November 2009 with all the electronic processing performed live.
Repetitive chanting has always been associated with mystical, trance-inducing states. All spiritual traditions employ some version of circular/spiral voice-based rituals to attain higher levels of perception. Ancient Hebrew prayers, especially the Psalms, are full of expressions of singing ‘new songs’ as exhortations to awaken and celebrate the spirit through music. ‘Shir Hadash’ lyrics use a selection of these expressions.
The electronic processing on the voices suggests the transition from material world to mystical spheres. The more ‘earthy’ ‘Kol Ha Aretz’ has very little processing, whereas the final ‘Chayos’ (name of a class of angelic beings, carriers of the Divine throne) is pure electronics. Some percussion and Biro’s Rhodes electric piano are also present in the baroque-flavoured ‘Naggen Bitrua’ and the jazzier ‘Shir Hadash 2’.
In some ways, ‘Shir Hadash’ links back to Biro’s 1996 female-only a-cappella piece ‘The Comparative Anatomy of Angels’ (Sargasso SCD28022).