Our love of Meredith

The word ‘pioneer’ is regularly used to describe Meredith Monk, referring not only to her unique and distinct musicality, but also to her fresh, lateral approach to the human voice. Monk has an uncanny ability to make the newest and most esoteric vocal stylings sound as if they’re derived from an ancient pedagogy grounded in thousands of years of practice. Her album Turtle Dreams, released in 1983, is a testament to this way of thinking. Monk creates a bizarre yet incredibly organic sound world with the human voice as its focus. 

Turtle Dreams: Produced for WGBH-TV, originally aired September 2, 1983. Shot by Ping Chong. Composed and performed by Meredith Monk and her Vocal Ensemble. 

For Rubiks, Monk’s work is so appealing as it refuses to be pigeon-holed. In an article for The Guardian, Tom Service reminds us that to talk of Monk as only a composer ignores the other essential aspects of her artistic practice, including choreography, filmmaking, and directing. This appeals to us hugely, as we are constantly trying to find ways to incorporate other art forms in to our practice as artists.

One of our first concerts was a portrait concert of composer Marcus Fjellström, who is also a self-taught animator/video artist. Most recently, we collaborated with visual artist Carmonn French to create a painting representing the Pythia Prize, our commissioning project for Australian female-identifying composers. For our Meredith Monk Portrait Concert, we have chosen to collaborate with the acclaimed Invenio Singers, who will bring Monk’s vocal writing to life.


While this may not be a huge departure from the world of instrumental music, there is a unique quality to the human voice that cultivates empathy and transcends cultural boundaries, which is perhaps why vocal music is so ubiquitous in popular culture. While much of Monk's vocal music doesn’t utilise text, her employment of vowel sounds which morph in to each other is at once transparent and enigmatic - an unrestrained approach to manipulating both the familiar and the unfamiliar, and reminds one of the most primordial sounds humans make with their voices.

For us, this concert is a celebration!

Rubiks Collective