The Song Company’s ten singers were humming a chant melody as they walked – processed, even – into the Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Room for the company’s latest concert exploring manuscripts from Oxford University’s Digital Image Archive of Mediaeval Music. The melody – soon given the words “Jesus autem transiens” – plunged the audience into the medieval sound world of Treble Helix Unlocked: The Eton Choirbook at the crossroads of the Renaissance.It was also, it transpired, an aural primer for the chant’s return in a far more complex form as the program’s finale.

Song Company, Treble Helix Unlocked The Song Company. Photo supplied

Treble Helix Unlockedcentred on music from the Eton Choirbook, a large manuscript compiled around 1500 at Eton College, which has fascinated Artistic Director Antony Pitts for several decades. He described this tour – and the research and experimentation that went into preparing it – as a “quest to unlock the musical DNA” of the Eton Choirbook. With the singers standing close around facsimiles on just a few music stands, seeking to recreate the conditions in which the Choirbook’s original singers may have read those pages, the concert opened with Walter...