Novus Magnificat

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Novus Magnificat
CD reissue cover since 1987
Studio album by Constance Demby
Released 1986
Recorded 1985[1]
Genre New Age,[2] space,[2] ambient[2]
Length 53:40 (CD)[3]
Label Hearts of Space
Producer Constance Demby, Anna Turner
Constance Demby chronology
Sacred Space Music
(1984)
Novus Magnificat
(1986)
Set Free
(1987)
Original cover
Cassette cover in 1986

Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate[4] (1986) is a New Age album by Constance Demby, with additional sonic textures by composer Michael Stearns. The album sold over 200,000 copies worldwide[5] and made Demby one of the most successful New Age artists of the time.[5] It was voted in 2002 one of "The 25 Most Influential Ambient Albums of All Time".[6]

History[edit]

Creation[edit]

The title Novus Magnificat is Latin for "New Magnificat". Inspired by Western classical and sacred music, Novus Magnificat was self-defined as "A Magnificat and Exaltate for digital orchestra, choral voices, and special electronic images"[7][8] and "Dedicated to the Infinite One..."[8]

The music was performed using the Emulator II, one of the first digital sampling synthesizers available: this provided and combined the sound of real symphonic instruments and choirs under a single keyboard, hooked to a Roland Juno 60 "for arpeggiated effects and enhanced sounds".[1]

Nothing being written down or scored in advance,[1][8] the album was directly composed and recorded in 1985[1] by Demby at the keyboard. The music was further enhanced with electronic textures by composer Michael Stearns and refined with record co-producer and label co-founder Anna Turner.[8] The result was termed, "Music conjured by the future, rooted in the Western sacred tradition."[7]

Releases[edit]

Novus Magnificat was released by Stephen Hill's Hearts of Space Records, first on cassette in 1986,[9] then on CD in fall 1987[9] (along a vinyl LP in Japan,[10] licensed to Alfa Records). It was the first of the four Demby albums this label would release or re-release between 1986 and 1995. The album was also broadcast in full on Hill's syndicated radio show Hearts of Space, in program 105 on June 13, 1986.[11]

In 1987, the last movement of "Novus Magnificat, Part One" (dubbed "My Heart Doth Soar") and the first movement of "Novus Magnificat, Part Two" (dubbed "The Flying Bach") were selected by Demby for her self-released 1978–1986 best-of compilation Light of This World (cassette and CD versions: the vinyl could only fit "The Flying Bach").

In 2001, the "Hearts of Space" label's trademark and catalogue were sold to Valley Entertainment, still distributing the album as of 2009. In 2008, the CD version was complemented with Novus Magnificat (Alternate Version), a downloadable digital album (MP3 files, 256 kbit/s, released June 6, 2008) with the same music cut in a new tracklist[12] of eleven movements.

Genre[edit]

Following Demby's previous studio album Sacred Space Music (1984), Novus Magnificat was tagged "Sacred Space II"[7] (later "Sacred Space Series, vol. II"[8]). Considered part of the New Age music,[2] the album is described as "Contemporary classical Spacemusic"[7][8] in its liner notes, or "symphonic space music"[2] by Allmusic. Its subtitle "Through the Stargate" is complemented with a space-themed cover reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey (whose novel version featured a "Star Gate").

The album is also often ranked among ambient music albums,[2] but Demby once noted "Though we are honored, Novus Magnificat is not really 'ambient' "[13] on her site.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[14]

USA Today wrote, "There is no other recording in the electronic genre rooted in the harmonies of Bach and the romantics that is so heartfelt",[13] and it was noted for "its Bach-like organs crescendos, its Vivaldi-like string passages"[8] in Pulse! magazine.

Though it was not nominated at the newly created "New Age" category of the Grammy Awards,[15] the album sold over 200,000 copies worldwide,[5] making Demby one of the most successful New Age artists of the time,[5] and helped build the reputation[5][16] of Hearts of Space Records.

In 2002, Echoes coproducer Jeff Towne "polled a panel of experts", 16 judges who voted the album #24 of "The 25 Most Influential Ambient Albums of All Time"[6] for New Age Voice.

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Constance Demby.[8]

1986 cassette album[edit]

  1. "Novus Magnificat, Side One" – 26:18[7]
  2. "Novus Magnificat, Side Two" – 28:22[7]

1987 vinyl album[edit]

  1. "Novus Magnificat, Part One" – 26:15[10]
  2. "Novus Magnificat, Part Two" – 28:05[10]

1987 compact album[edit]

  1. "Novus Magnificat, Part One" – 26:24[3]
  2. "Novus Magnificat, Part Two" – 27:14[3]

2008 digital album[edit]

  1. "Soul's Journey" – 6:51 ["Novus Pt. 1" – 26:34][12]
  2. "Ascent" – 5:12
  3. "Tears for Terra" – 4:26
  4. "Exultate" – 6:06
  5. "My Heart Doth Soar" – 3:59
  6. "The Flying Bach" – 6:06 ["Novus Pt. 2" – 27:40]
  7. "Trust" – 4:56
  8. "Bridging Dimensions" – 3:15
  9. "Through the Stargate" – 4:45
  10. "Magnificat" – 3:58
  11. "Cosmic Carousel" – 4:40

Two of these movements had already been named in 1987 for the best-of compilation Light of This World. Four more were named (some with a different title) as free MP3 samples provided on Demby's website since at least 2001:[17] this partial tracklist had "Ascent", "Choral Climax" (now "Exultate"), "My Heart Doth Soar", "The Flying Bach", "Certainty" (now "Trust"), and "Stargate" (now "Through the Stargate").

Personnel[edit]

Musical[8]
with
Technical[8]
  • Recording: Constance Demby
  • Additional engineering and track re-mastering: Warren Dennis (at The Banquet Studio, Santa Rosa, CA) "who made significant technical and musical contributions throughout the project"[8]
  • Mixing: Stephen Hill, Warren Dennis (at The Banquet Studio, on Thiel CS-3 and Spica TC-50 monitors)
  • Production: Constance Demby, Anna Turner
Graphical[8]
  • Original cover painting: Geoffrey Chandler (Visionary Publishing, Inc.)
  • Art direction: Nelson & Toews Design

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d See primary source: Demby, "The creation of Novus Magnificat"
  2. ^ a b c d e f See secondary source: Wright, "Novus Magnificat".
  3. ^ a b c The CD lengths are "26:24 / 27:14" (disc total 53:40 with gaps) as reported identically by Allmusic and from physically checking one disc in a CD player. The physical disc is printed with the almost identical values "26:25 / 27:14". (The CD case's backcover is erroneously printed with "26:18 / 28:22", the durations printed on the original cassette.)
  4. ^ Also seen incorrectly spelled "Novus Magnificat: Thru the Stargate".
  5. ^ a b c d e See secondary source: Phoenix, "Constance Demby: Heavy Metal Thunder"
  6. ^ a b See secondary source: Towne & Manzi, "The 25 Most Influential Ambient Albums of All Time"
  7. ^ a b c d e f See primary source: HOS, "Novus Magnificat" (cassette liner notes)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n See primary source: HOS, "Novus Magnificat" (compact liner notes)
  9. ^ a b See secondary source: Digital Audio, "Constance Demby: Novus Magnificat"
  10. ^ a b c See primary source: HOS, "Novus Magnificat" (vinyl liner notes)
  11. ^ HOS. "PGM 105 : Novus Magnificat", Hearts of Space at HOS.com
  12. ^ a b "Novus Magnificat (Alternate Version)" (with date and tracklist) at Amazon
  13. ^ a b See primary source: Demby, "Novus Magnificat"
  14. ^ Allmusic ( review
  15. ^ Novus Magnificat was released in 1986 and eligible for the 1987 Grammy Awards (alias "Grammy Awards for 1986"), where a "New Age" category appeared that year for the first time. Neither the album nor Demby appears on the MetroLyrics list of 1987 Grammy nominations, including the two compilations from Germany's Windham Hill Records, "various artists - Windham Hill Records Sampler '86"[1] and "various artists - A Winter's Solstice"[2]. (Same for 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989.) No other source checked in June 2009 (including Google News Archive[3] and Google Book Search[4]) could list the album among Grammy nominations. The "Grammy nominated" claim found on Demby's website since at least 2001 [5] (and in some interviews) may have been a confusion between the album being "nominated" by its record label to the Grammy academy (as is the regular process) and the actual official list of five Grammy nominees (the one called "Grammy nominated").
  16. ^ HOS. "Hearts of Space - Company", Hearts of Space at HOS.com: "Early releases on Hearts of Space were critically applauded and sold well in the instrumental music market by then swept into the burgeoning New Age category. Constance Demby's Novus Magnificat (1986) was an early hit, listed on annual Top Albums lists in Pulse! and Jazziz."
  17. ^ Demby's Novus page from 2001 [6] to 2007 [7] via Archive.org had this partial tracklist. The original six MP3 files are still the same on the 2009 website's complete tracklist (including keeping their old filenames).

References[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

External links[edit]