An introduction to the poetics of sacred sound in twentieth-century music


  • Luigi Antonio Irlandini UDESC


Along the twentieth century has occurred the beginning of a fusion between two very different horizons: Western musical composition and Hindu sonic theology. The essential content of this theology and the changes in Western musical language and aesthetics, society and culture which have allowed this fusion to take place are briefly outlined. Instrumental and vocal works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Giacinto Scelsi, Michael Vetter and David Hykes provide specific examples and, in particular, raise the predicament between mysticism and rationalism, manifested in the dichotomy ècriture/inspiration. The study proceeds investigating the connections between music and meditation. In this context, overtone singing appears as a musical and meditative practice. The incorporation of this non-European or ancient vocal technique is evaluated as a dawning horizon in Western music. Overtone singing has required a practical emphasis through improvisation, suggesting a new musical praxis that does not separate composition from performance.


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Biografia do Autor

Luigi Antonio Irlandini, UDESC

Luigi Antonio Irlandini, composer/pianist, is Professor at UDESC where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in harmony, counterpoint, analysis, aesthetics and Indian classical music. His research focuses the dialectics of ancient and non-European contents in the compositional poetics of the 20th and 21st centuries. His music has been performed in Brazil, Italy, the U.S.A., Japan, Argentina and Holland; recently, his orchestral piece Phoînix was performed by the Philarmonic Orchestra of Minas Gerais conducted by Marcos Arakaki at the IV Festival Tinta Fresca, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2012. Irlandini studied composition with Hans-Joachim Koellreutter, Franco Donatoni, Stephen L. Mosko and Brian Ferneyhough. Ph.D. in Music Composition: University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB, 1998; M.F.A. in Music Composition: California Institute of the Arts, CalArts, Valencia, California, 1990; B.M. in Piano, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro, UNIRIO, 1987. More at:




Como Citar

Irlandini, L. A. (2013). An introduction to the poetics of sacred sound in twentieth-century music. Revista Vórtex, 1(2). Recuperado de