Cat's Cradle Collective

Jacob’s Ladder

The string figure Jacob’s Ladder (photographed by Judith Deschamps, hands of António Sá-Dantas)

The string figure Jacob’s Ladder (photographed by Judith Deschamps, hands of António Sá-Dantas)


What is Jacob’s Ladder

This debut performance is inspired by the string figure Jacob’s Ladder. The never-ending ladder — a symbol of spiritual ascension — becomes a musical journey starting deep down, with our darkest sides rising up to the highest clarity, yet always circling back again. Each step taken to get to the string figure is like a step of the ladder itself, in this immersive performance, a musical step — from Brunet to Lutoslawski, Bach to Sá-Dantas and finally Pärt.

Learn the Jacob’s Ladder

Watch the movie with António Sá-Dantas explaining you how to to every step to the Jacob’s Ladder!
(filmed by Maren Bosma)

Music of the Jacob’s Ladder

Shepard Tone
Named after Roger Shepard, these rising, or falling superimpositions of sine waves (in octaves) create an auditory illusion. The tone seems to continually ascend, or descend, yet they never seem to reach its highest, or lowest point — and keep rising/falling endlessly.

Johannes Brunet (Arr. António Sá-Dantas) Victimae Paschali Laudes
For a long time this work originally written for 5 voices, was attributed to Josquin Desprez. Now known to be by Brunet (fl.c. 1510-1530), this work sets the second part of the easter text for five voices. It is a work about mythical resurrection, moving out of death and darkness into the light - our first step through the ladder.

Witold Lutoslawski Chain 1
This work oscillates between earthy quirkiness, and dense desolate waves of sound. Lutoslawski creates a chain of events, reactive to each other in different characters, where the players have freedom to play by themselves - and to dialog with each other. A step into the ups and downs of life.
(Composed 1983 for London Sinfonietta)

Johann Sebastian Bach Canon per Tonos (Musical Offering)
Like all canons written in the Musical Offering, Bach offers a puzzle as how and when to start the imitation of the voice - this one modulates at the end, to repeat always one tone higher, rising potentially for ever, until it is outside of our hearing range.

António Sá-Dantas Desire taught you (ii)
This composition draws inspiration from Brunet’s and Bach’s works played in the concert and bases itself on the story Kali décapitée by Marguerite Yourcenar. The goddess Kali, cannot stop herself from following her desires, losing herself with whomever she can find. At the end of the story, a wise person tells her that “Desire taught you, the inanity of desire”. This piece exists out of canons, never stopping, always rising, never able to stop resisting to follow the other voices - only stopping when they get stuck, and start over again.
(Composed for Remix Ensemble (conducted by Peter Rundel, as Young Composer in Residence for Casa da Música 2016)

Arvo Pärt Fratres
The final step of this journey starts with the highest point of clarity, and slowly brings us back down through a rainbow of instrumental and harmonic colours.
(Composed initially for Violin and Piano, adapted to ensemble by Pärt in 2007)