“Hockets for Two Voices is a work of effortless beauty & concision. It sounds like Bach and Blade Runner at the same time.” — David Longstreth (Dirty Projectors)
The practice of hocketing is defined by splitting a melody across multiple parts, often in very surprising ways. While the form dates back to the vocal music of medieval Europe, it is also found in music from all over the world.
Meara O’Reilly is a composer and artist who focuses on perception and new musical interfaces. She has presented her work at National Sawdust, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Hall, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, The Bauhaus Dessau, and as part of Björk’s world Biophilia tour. She is also the co-creator of the Rhythm Necklace app, a musical sequencer that uses two-dimensional geometry to create rhythm.
Hockets for Two Voices is a series of seven hockets composed for two performers. (O’Reilly performs both vocal parts on the recording.) Each piece explores a variety of instances where the listener might involuntarily fuse sequences of notes into melodic patterns, despite differing sound sources. In the entire series, there are never more than two notes occurring at one time, although it’s easy to perceive that there are many more. In the field of music cognition, this is referred to as pseudo-polyphony, or melodic fission.
Early versions of these pieces were commissioned by visual artist Tauba Auerbach for a 2016 performance and installation at The Kitchen in New York City. Photographs of Auerbach’s sculptures appear in the packaging for the Hockets EP.
It’s possible to hear each hocket in multiple ways, depending on where in the stereo field you focus your attention. The panning for each track remains static; any perceived changes in the location of sound sources are created solely by the listener. For best results, please listen on speakers with good stereo separation, or headphones.
This music was heavily informed by the research of Albert S. Bregman, Diana Deutsch, and David Wessel.
The images included in the booklet insert for the vinyl EP are excerpts from graphic scores for each of the seven hockets. Each voice is represented by a different shape; singer one, a triangle, and singer two, a circle. As in traditional notation, pitch is represented vertically, and time horizontally. This alternative notation style allows for the ability to track each part individually, as well as to understand how both parts of the hocket interact to create new combined melodies or inherent patterns.
All tracks performed and recorded by Meara O’Reilly in Los Angeles CA, April 2017-June 2018
Engineering by Sonny Diperri, April 21-26 2017
Mixed by Marta Salogni in London UK, March 2019
Mastered by Emily Lazar at the Lodge NYC, assisted by Chris Allgood, April 2019