The Shaman Ascending

Barry Truax

  • Year of composition: 2004-05
  • Duration: 15:45
  • Instrumentation: 8- / 16-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Cambridge Street Publishing / Yul média
  • Commission: ZKM
  • ISWC: T9030986299


ISRC CAD500910154

  • 48 kHz, 24 bits

Surround 5.1

ISRC CAD500910143

  • Dolby Digital, 48 kHz, 24 bits
  • 48 kHz, 24 bits

The Shaman Ascending evokes the imagery of a traditional shaman figure chanting in the quest for spiritual ecstasy. However, in this case, the listener is placed inside of a circle of loudspeakers with the vocal utterances swirling around at high rates of speed and timbral development. The work proceeds in increasing stages of complexity as the shaman ascends towards a higher spiritual state.

The work and its title are inspired by a pair of Canadian Inuit sculptures by John Terriak with collectively the same name, as well as Inuit throat singing. All of the vocal material heard in the piece is derived from a recording of the Vancouver bass singer Derrick Christian.

The Shaman Ascending was realized in 2004-05 at the composer’s studio and mixed in the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) and premiered on February 12, 2005 during the festival trans_canada at the ZKM_Medientheater in Karlsruhe (Germany). The piece was commissioned by the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM). The 8-channel version of this work was created with Richmond Sound Design’s AudioBox computer-controlled diffusion system. The stereophonic version of The Shaman Ascending was first released by Cambridge Street Records in 2007 on the CD Spirit Journies (CSR 0701).



  • February 12, 2005, trans_canada: Sonic Travel, ZKM_Medientheater, Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg, Germany)