Photo by Carter Murdoch
Moirai is an early music ensemble that explores informed performance practice of the music of the Early and High Middle Ages. The ensemble was founded by vocalist Hanna Marti and flautist Mara Winter in Reykjavík in october 2015, where the two musicians met to conduct the necessary research to create musical reconstructions of the songs and stories of the medieval Edda.
Moirai performs a great variety of informed and specialized programs of medieval music, expanding the ensemble with further musicians, depending on the project. The ensemble's speciality lies in going beyond the notated music sources, aiming to reconstruct pieces that were sung in medieval times, but were not written down in musical notation. Instead these songs formed parts of the repertoire of medieval singers, who, relying on their skill of memory, learning the song by ear from their teacher or music master, had no need to notate, or indeed compose their song in written-down form. With the breaking of such an oral tradition, its songs and sounds have gone silent and are at times transmitted to us only as texts, sometimes with a few melodic guidelines (aides to the memory of the singers).
In order to reconstruct plausible versions of these „songs gone silent“ Moirai carefully studies the musical style of extant original music sources from the place and time in question, creating a compendium of musical material and melodic gestures – a musical vocabulary and syntax, so to speak. This compendium then serves to re-create a stylistically coherent song, a work which Moirai usually does without the use of musical notation, in order to remain in the work settings of the medieval musician.
With this method Moirai is able to reconstruct a lost music tradition and, in working without musical notation but only with the text and some memory aides, approaches the mindspace and creative process of the medieval musician.