Ruth Cunningham

Light & Shadow: Chants, Prayers & Improvisations

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Ruth Cunningham, one of the original members of Anonymous 4, left the group in 1998 to pursue a career as a soloist and sound healing practitioner. Subtitled "Chants, Prayers & Improvisations," this album consists, except for several traditional chants and a cantiga, of her original compositions, which she sings and plays, accompanying herself on medieval harp, piano, percussion, and shruti box, an Indian drone instrument. She also performs on flute and recorders on several tracks. The music is very much in the tradition of Anonymous 4 -- simple, lyrical, and chantlike -- and Cunningham performs it with the same vocal purity, intensity, and supple musicality characteristic of the ensemble. She takes traditional Western and Hindu sources as her texts, as well as several atmospheric poems by her sister Elizabeth Cunningham. Although she includes some extended vocal techniques reminiscent of Meredith Monk, her text setting is always graceful and peaceful. The album, besides being a musical performance, is also very much an exercise in sound therapy, with the intent of creating an atmosphere of healing tranquility. Cunningham's songs may be simple, but they are never simplistic and are certainly never sappy. This album is for anyone interested in extensions of the tradition of chant, women's voices, and uncomplicated but sophisticated music suitable for meditation.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:09
2 2:44
3 1:42
4 5:13
5 1:48
6 1:15
7 2:35
8 2:14
9 1:23
10 4:20
11 2:08
12 2:59
13 2:42
14 12:19
15 2:32
16 2:07
17 1:50
18 2:22
19 1:59
20 1:01
21 3:37
22 1:47
23 0:43
24 1:36
25 0:54
blue highlight denotes track pick