A palimpsest is a manuscript whose original text has been scraped or washed away and overwritten with a new one, often many times over. The original text is still present but visible only in fragments.
This concept has inspired composers to overlay music in similar ways to fascinating effect. We feature a small sample of musical palimpsests.
Palimpsest mvmt 2 Quodlibet (exceprt) by Kevin Ernste
Palimpsest mvmt 3 Lachrymae by Kevin Ernste
– performed by the JACK Quartet
Palimpsest I by George Benjamin
– performed by Ensemble Moderne, Oliver Knussen conducting
Debussy Palimpsest by Paul Novak
– performed by Martha Chan, Sebastian Stefanovic, Molly Langr
Crain Palimpsest mvmt 1 by Gabriel Kahane
– performed by the Knights, Eric Jacobsen conducting