Project and site is an archive in a continuous progress...

Short project introduction

The aim of this project is to investigate vocal ornamentations in French baroque composer Michel Lambert's (1610-1696)'Leçons de Ténèbres. It is an artistic research project where vocal performance practice is diffracted through Karen Barad's theory on agential realism and Japanese philosopher Kitarō Nishida's concepts of Action-Intuition and Basho.

Leçons de Ténèbres (Lessons in the Shadows of Death)

an artistic research project on French vocal ornamentation, voicing, acting-intuition and how to perform TRUST

Project PI Elisabeth Belgrano

Musical Source

Leçons de Ténèbres

Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

Cycle I. Bibliothèque nationale de France, département de la Musique, Rés. 585 


Collaborations and advisors

Catherine Massip, Frederic Ogéus, Marita Lindmark, Robert Kendrick, Mayuko Uehara... 


Via Dolorosa: a Vocal Performance Landscape (in swedish)

Case studies and expositions

A complete recording of Michel Lambert Leçons de Ténèbres will be performed in Jerusalem and Paris during 2018-2020. Collaboration with Frederic Ogéus (organ), Drew Minter (recording producer), Frank Cunningham (recording engineer)...

A Singing Orna/Mentor's performance or Irrational Practice

 Elisabeth Belgrano, ‘A Singing Orna/Mentor's Performance or Ir/rational Practice‘,    RUUKKU - Studies in Artistic Research, 11 (2019)


Project is supported by

Royal Academy of Music Stockholm, Kungliga Vetenskaps- och Vitterhetssamhället i Göteborg, Sven och Dagmar Saléns Stiftelse, Helge Ax:son Johnssons Stiftelse, Gertrude och Ivar Philipsons Stiftelse, Japanstiftelsen 




(Live recordings from open vocal performance laboratories/concerts etc.)

Audio recording,

Vocal laboratory,

St Anne Church, Old CIty, Jerusalem, July 2014

(recorded with ipad)

Audio recording,

Vocal laboratory,

Hagakyrkan, Gothenburg, November 2017

(recorded with iphone7)

Audio recording,

Vocal laboratory,

Helsinki Cathedral,

November 2017

(recorded with iphone7)

Audio recordnings,

Vocal Laboratory, 

St. Chiara, Porto Maurizio, Imperia


Aug 2017

(Recorded with ipad)


Massip, Catherine (1999). L'Art de Bien Chanter: Michel Lambert (1610-1696). Société Françainse de Musicologie, Paris.

Troisiéme Leçons du Jeudi St


Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

Première Leçon du Jeudi St.

Incipit Lamentatione Jeremiœ prophetœ,  

Heth, Thet, Jod, Caph, 

Jerusalem Convertere ad Dominum Deum Tuum

Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

Première Leçon du Mercredi St

Jerusalm convertere ad Dominum Deum Tuum

Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

Troisiéme Leçons du Jeudi St


Michel Lambert (1610-1696)

Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres du Vendredi St

Kulturtemplet, Gothenburg, (Good Friday) 30 March 2018 


Première Leçon du Vendredi St

Kulturtemplet, Gothenburg, 15 December 2018, (iphone8)

Première Leçon du Mercredi St

Gothenburg Cathedral, 16 February 2018 (iphone7)

'All beings compose and partake in the responsive structure of the world. "Intra-acting responsibly as part of the world means taking account of the entangled phenomena that are intrinsic of the world's vitality and being responsive to the possibilities that might help us flourish."'

Keller, C. and Rubenstein, M.-J. (2017) Entangled Worlds: Religion, Science and New Materialisms, Fordham Univ. Press, New York, pp. 7-8

Around 1662/63 Michel Lambert composed his first complete cycle of Leçons des Ténèbres. (He completed a second cycle dated 1689.) They were performed in front of the king in Paris at L’Eglise de Feuillants. The lessons are a series of meditations that from my personal understanding and experience aim at bringing listeners and performers beyond the shadows of death and sorrow, allowing for a sensation of wholeness rather than separation between pain and hope. The musical manuscript is colored by detailed written out vocal ornamentations. I am currently engaged in an artistic research study of these meditative lessons and their vocal ornaments. Throughout the study I read the score through the philosophical understanding of two concepts: the concept of NOTHINGNESS and the concept of JE-NE-SAIS-QUOI.  In the process of performing the musical ornaments I set off on a journey into a certain-something-not-yet-known, that cannot really be described, since the score at first can be viewed as rather "irrational" (Massip 2009:220) but at the same time extremely detailed and specific. It is in this spacetime in-between reason and non-reason where I and my collaboraters search to translate this wonderful meditative music from the 17th century into meaning and sound.


Selected references

Barad, K. (2012) What is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Vituality, Justice. DOCUMENTA (13), No.099, 9/6/2012-16/9/2012.

Belgrano, E. (2011) "Lasciatemi morire" o faró "La Finta Pazza": Embodying Vocal Nothingness on Stage in Italian and French 17th century Operatic Laments and Mad Scenes, ArtMonitor, doctoral diss., Gothenburg.

Bacilly, B. de. (1679) Remarques curieuse sur l’Art de bien Chanter et particulierement pour ce qui Regarde Le Chant François par le Sieur B.D.B, Paris

Calcagno, M.(2004) Signifying Nothing: On the Aesthetics of Pure Voice in Early Venetian Opera, The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 20, No.4, pp. 247-274.

Massip, C. (1999) L’art de bien chanter: Michel Lambert (1610-1696), Société Françaises de Musicologie, Paris.

Nishida.K (1926/27) Basho. In: Krummel, John W. M. & Nagatomo, S. (2012) Place and Dialectic: Two Essays by Nishida Kitaro, Oxford Scholarship on-line, January 2012.

Scholar, Richard. (2005)The Je-Ne-Sais-Quoi in Early Modern Europe. Encounters with a certain something, Oxford Univ Press.

Uehara, Mayuko 2009, Japanese Aspects of Nishida’s Basho: seeing the ‘Form without Form’, in Frontiers of Japanese Philosophy 4, Lam Wing-keung and Cheung Ching-yuen (eds.), Nagoya: Nanzan Institute for Religion & Culture.

“Let us listen to a voice without voice. A voice that tells about sorrow and human disaster. A voice describing the fall of a city, its inhabitants, visitors and intruders. Let us listen to a voice performing what cannot be seen because of eyes being so full of tears. Let us listen to a voice that, without limitations, enters our bodies and minds until nothing else can be voiced. When voice passes its own self, only NOTHING remains. This Nothing is our HOPE.  It is in the state of experiencing HOPE that we can live our lives in trust and peace. “

Elisabeth Belgrano,

Kyoto March 2017