According to ancient Egyptian mythology, Anubis, the jackal-headed god, protected the dead, weighing their souls and deciding their fates in a ritual known as psychostasio. Meanwhile, the goddess Nut swallowed the sun every evening and gave birth to it every morning, and drawings depict her arching above the horizon, with her hands touching the west and her feet touching the east. Inspired by these two mythological figures, Grisey’s Anubis-Nout is a diptych, with each musical “panel” representing one of these gods. Grisey portrays Anubis’s kingdom of the dead through a reversal of the laws of harmonics. Instead of extending upwards in every-smaller intervals from a fundamental pitch, here the process is reversed and the “fundamental” is in the upper range and its derived sounds extend downward in decreasing intervals. Nout complements Anubis. Just as Nut is the day to Anubis’s night, the harmonic spectrum now resumes its normal laws, and extends upwards, skyward. The allusion to the Egyptian cult of the dead is both symbolic and referential: Grisey’s friend and fellow-composer, Claude Vivier was murdered in 1983, the composition date of Anubis-Nout.
Tuesday, March 2, 2004