Monty Adkins, Terri Hron

Une mise en sons parfois grouillante, animée, parcourue d’instants gracieux — une forme de vie. Revue & Corrigée, France

… ambient composer Monty Adkins makes a stylistic metamorphosis and takes to the air… The Sound Projector, UK

Prix Opus 2015-16: Disque de l’année — Finaliste

  • CeReNeM

CD (IMED 16136)

  • Label: empreintes DIGITALes
  • IMED 16136
  • 2016
  • UCC 771028213627
  • Total duration: 42:14
  • OGpak
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
  • 50 g

On the web

Download (IMED 16136_NUM)


About the Audio Recording Process

My doctoral research at McGill University focuses on developing techniques for creating three-dimensional music recordings. Although speaker-based 3D audio has existed for over a decade, little has been published on how to best capture music for this immersive playback environment. The 3D audio format I am currently working with is 22.2 surround sound, developed by researchers at NKH, Japan’s national public broadcaster. 22.2 surround sound combines a number of speakers in both the horizontal and vertical planes, creating an incredibly enveloping and realistic listening experience.

Terri Hron’s various instrumental parts were recorded in two different spaces at McGill University: the Music Multimedia Room, a large-scale scoring stage, and Studio Z-Axis, an experimental recording space. The recordings were monitored and mixed in McGill University’s Studio 22, which can accommodate up to 30 channels of discreet speaker playback. The following microphones were used: Neumann U87, Schoeps MK2, MK4 and MK21, Sennheiser MKH 800.

These particular recordings are part of a larger set of experiments examining small-scale 3D microphone arrays, as well as potential listener preference for levels of correlated and decorrelated sonic information in 8 channels. Though initially captured as 8-channel 3D recordings, Terri Hron’s performances were re-mixed to stereo for compatibility with traditional release formats. Hopefully, at some point in the future, there will be time to combine the 3D instrumental recordings with Monty Adkins and Terri Hron’s electronic parts to create a highly immersive rendering of the pieces.

Will Howie, Montréal [ix-15]

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In the press


Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no. 113, September 1, 2017
Une mise en sons parfois grouillante, animée, parcourue d’instants gracieux — une forme de vie.

Through the Looking Glass

Stuart Marshall, The Sound Projector, October 30, 2016

Last heard purveying Rothko-esque, aquatic ambience in Unfurling Lines (the waterways of which having lulled but not quite committed me to my final rest), ambient composer Monty Adkins makes a stylistic metamorphosis and takes to the air with a new collaborator Terri Hron and her ‘consort of renaissance recorders’ for a five-section survey of moths, butterflies and other winged insects, each piece deriving from an idea about a particular order. This ‘display case’ approach makes sense in the empreintes DIGITALes catalogue, where each collection receives the taxonomer’s treatment; every piece given a full exegesis — often quite scientific in tone — in the liner notes.

It also delivers straight into the action, avoiding the long narrative arc from minimal matter to maximal clatter that such singular, scientific surveys tend to take as the depth of field narrows on increasingly intricate detail. Each section constitutes its own field of activity, marked by a set of common features, such as the recorders’ sharp, electrified exhortations that weave, whistle and roll into granulated deconstructions of their own essence. Those of us with gardens might forget the butterfly’s decorativeness in this thick, processed churn of organic, primal matter, which really digs into the violence of full-blown physical change. It also reminds us of the truly alien aspect these creatures acquire when considered up close; their insect sensibilities airborne in dotted patterns, the quivering of internal cavities and the organic passage of events that finds its natural habitat when just shy of critical mass.

… ambient composer Monty Adkins makes a stylistic metamorphosis and takes to the air…


Simon Cummings, 5:4, May 23, 2016

The latest crop of releases from Canadian label Empreintes DIGITALes has proved as thought-provoking as ever, offering extremely diverse approaches to electronic music, with similarly varied results. Lépidoptères, a new 40-minute cycle of music by composer Monty Adkins in collaboration with recorder player Terri Hron, takes its inspiration, as the name implies, from families of butterflies and moths. The relationship between the various recorders used and the electronic sounds is deliberately flexible, allowing Hron scope for improvisation both materially and structurally. Selections from a distinct palette of sounds are triggered randomly, creating a ‘habitat’ for Hron, which are subsequently shaped by envelopes that, in Adkins’ words, “focus on specific families or combinations of families of sounds”. The first thing to say is that Lépidoptères is generally at some remove from the ambient aesthetic that’s characterised the majority of Adkins’ work in recent years. That in itself is a welcome and interesting development. In its place is a soundworld more spontaneous and unpredictable, where one’s listening focus is drawn primarily to the shifting, moment-by-moment articulations and textural shadings. The relationship between acoustic and electronic is well-balanced, neither predominating overall, taking turns to assume predominance in the foreground. It’s a work that, to my mind, takes time to establish itself, only really finding a foothold from the third movement, Saturniid, where the recorder is surrounded on all sounds by dense, broad agglomerations of colour and minute slivers of ticklish sonic stuff. There’s something primordial, elemental about it, carried over into the more overtly meandering environment of Anisoptera, where everything becomes simultaneously more considered yet very much more demonstrative, passing through some simply delicious episodes that stomp all over the myth that acoustic and electronic sounds can’t convincingly cohere. Hron teases out some fantastical material from her instruments, going some way towards redefining our perception of them. Taken as a whole, Lépidoptères is a nicely strange and engrossing cycle, one that finds a telling compromise between the immediacy of beauty and a more radical exploration into modes of behaviour and interaction.

Taken as a whole, Lépidoptères is a nicely strange and engrossing cycle, one that finds a telling compromise between the immediacy of beauty and a more radical exploration into modes of behaviour and interaction.


Tristan Bath, The Wire, no. 387, May 1, 2016

Composers Monty Adkins and Terri Hron collaborate on a spacious composition in five movements themed around butterflies and moths. The music centres on Hron’s recorder playing, with Adkins refracting and reshaping the fine and feathery tones of the instruments via electronically assisted metamorphosis. At times the recorder finds itself in a hall of misshapen mirrors, and at others its sound flows into a delta of wobbly tributaries, again towards an incalculable sonic ocean of slow release.

… a hall of misshapen mirrors […] a delta of wobbly tributaries […] an incalculable sonic ocean…

Lépidoptères takes flight with recorders and electronics

Professor Monty Adkins teams up with Montréal’s Dr Terri Hron for a cycle of five pieces reflecting families of butterflies and moths

One of the world’s most ancient musical instruments is combined with advanced electronics in a new recording from the University of Huddersfield’s Monty Adkins. It is the product of a key transatlantic collaboration.

Professor Monty Adkins The disc, named Lépidoptères, has been released by the renowned Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes. It consists of a cycle of five works for recorder and electronics co-composed by Dr Monty Adkins, who is a performer and Professor of Experimental Electronic Music at the University of Huddersfield.

He teamed up with Montréal-based Dr Terri Hron, a composer and a performer who specialises in the recorder, a centuries-old instrument that also takes its place in highly contemporary music.

The University of Huddersfield has a global reputation in the field of new and experimental music and it has formed a partnership with two counterparts in Canada – the Université de Montréal and McGill University. Lépidoptères is a product of this collaboration and the project was conceived during Terri Hron’s residency at the studios of the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) at the University of Huddersfield.

The composition of [Lepidoptera] took place at the Université de Montréal, whose Vice-Dean Robert Normandeau (pictured right) – an established figure in the world of electronic music – has a long-standing relationship with the University of Huddersfield.

Professor Adkins and Dr Hron then recorded their work at McGill University, which uses a 22.2 surround sound system developed by research at Japan’s national public broadcaster. It is the only facility of its kind outside Japan and provides the ideal environment for creating a totally immersive musical experience.

‌The album has now been launched at a concert in Belgium, followed by tour dates in the UK, Belgium, Amsterdam and Prague. Terri Hron also gave a preview of the album at a concert in Banff, Canada.

[Lepidoptera] is a work for recorders and electronics made of five movements, each referring to families of butterflies and moths.

“The nature and character of the recorder is similar, with its varying tonal colours, and its transformations from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly,” said Professor Adkins. “This inspired similar connections and interactions between the recorders and the electronics.”

The [Lepidoptera] project led to the development of an algorithm to control the sound in relation to the recorder.

“Rather than creating a fixed piece of music that the recorder plays from start to finish, this research has created a system where it is possible to control the way in which the sounds and the various processes work all the way through the movement,” explained Professor Adkins.

“As a result each performance is never the same, providing a unique experience for the audience and the performer.”

After the success of [Lepidoptera], future projects with other countries are in the pipeline as the University of Huddersfield and its Canadian partners plan an international network of musical collaborations.

… a totally immersive musical experience.


Sven Schlijper, KindaMuzik, March 29, 2016

Rondrennen met een netje, iets fladderends vangen, naar thuis om het op te prikken, te prepareren, er een bakje omheen te doen en dan te bewonderen: vlinderen dus. Het is evengoed wetenschap als verzamelwoede als kunst; het laatste bewijst Damien Hirst wel met zijn glas-in-lood-achtige, ronde doeken die hij bedekt met vlindervleugels. Monty Adkins en Terri Hron laten zich door de insecten inspireren tot een vijftal akoesmatische composities, waarin fladderen niet per se de boventoon voert.

Adkins is gekend fieldrecorder en geluidkunstenaar. Hier componeert hij samen met Terri Hron veldopnamen voor onder andere fluit. Vleugels lijken te ritselen en bossages worden uit de weg geduwd, glinsterende kleurenpracht verschiet van toon en diepte. Adkins en Hron verklanken de transformatie van larve naar pop tot volwassen vlinder en ook vangt het duo het ritme van dagen nachtactiviteit in composities.

Een hoofdrol is weggelegd voor Terri Hron op diverse formaten blokfluit. Specialiste in oude muziek, maar evenzeer meesterlijk op dreef in het nieuwste werk. Dankzij haar draagt de houten resonantie — die niet alleen geblazen aan bod komt — bij tot een worteling van de vluchtig-energiek kwinkelerende, vaak dissonante minnedansen. Als een natuurlijke, logische paring van akoestisch en elektronisch timbre in het opflakkerende kleurenschild van een rustende dagpauwoog.

… het opflakkerende kleurenschild van een rustende dagpauwoog.


Stephan Wolf, Amusio, March 2, 2016

Auf dem kanadischen (und in Sachen Elektroakustik und Akusmatik laut eigener Aussage weltweit führenden) Label empreintes DIGITALes ist soeben mit Lépidoptères eine Kollaboration des britischen Komponisten Monty Adkins (Professur für experimentelle elektronische Musik an der Universität Huddersfield) und der „kreativen Seiltänzerin“ Terri Hron aus Kanada erschienen. Sie geleitet den Hörer in die Welt von Wasserjungfern, Pfauenspinnern und Eintagsfliegen.

Dabei dürfen Zweifel angemeldet werden, dass es Entomologen vorbehalten sei, Lépidoptères zu verstehen und wertschätzen zu können. Aber anders als ein gemeiner Naturbeobachter, der mitunter anthropomorphe Assoziationen zu allem was kreucht und fleucht entwickelt, enthalten sich Monty Adkins und Terri Hron eines emotionalisierten Transfers. Ihre Kompositionen scheinen vielmehr in den Closeup der reinen Anschauung vorzudringen.

Interesselosigkeit kann dabei „natürlich“ nicht vorausgesetzt werden. Und doch fällt es unmöglich zu entscheiden, inwiefern die Musik letztlich nicht doch von Vorstellungen geprägt wurde, die sich anhand dezidiert biologischer Vorgänge kaum verifizieren lassen. Mit Rekordern und Elektronik nähern sie sich ihren Sujets, abstrahieren dabei jedoch wesentlich entschlossener als etwa Greame Revells The Insect Musicians (1986). Die musikalische Mimesis überhöht die konventionelle Imagination und führt so — erstaunlicherweise — zu einem Naturerleben von geradezu unmittelbarer Art. Aber eben nicht nach Art der Natur. Sondern, eben, als Kunst.

Sondern, eben, als Kunst.

More texts

  • Aleksander Filipowski, Lizard, no. 22, October 1, 2016