Janet Cardiff, Forty‑Part Motet, 2001. 40‑track audio installation, installation dimensions variable

Janet Cardiff, Forty‑Part Motet , 2001. 40‑track audio installation, installation dimensions variable. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Janet Cardiff. Photo: NGC

Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet

The publicly and critically acclaimed Forty-Part Motet is now back on display at the National Gallery of Canada.

This brilliant sound sculpture by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff is a reworking of Spem in Alium, a piece by 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis. Forty separately-recorded choir voices are played back through 40 speakers positioned around the Rideau Chapel in the Indigenous and Canadian Galleries. The effect of the work on visitors is deeply moving.


National Gallery of Canada
Indigenous and Canadian Galleries
Rideau Chapel
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4

Most people experience this piece now in their living rooms in front of only two speakers. Even in a live concert the audience is separated from the individual voices. Only the performers are able to hear the person standing next to them singing a different harmony. I wanted to be able to climb inside the music.

– Janet Cardiff

Featured Videos

Janet Cardiff – 40 Part Motet

Listen to Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Josée Drouin-Brisebois as she talks about Janet Cardiff's brilliant sound sculpture.

360 degrees: Rideau Chapel

Live the experience of hearing Janet Cardiff’s Forty-Part Motet in our Rideau Chapel in this 360 degree video.


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