L’inaudible Stéphane Roy

Cover art: Maddi Berger, Connections (Montréal, 2018)
  • Canada Council for the Arts


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Stéphane Roy


About L’inaudible

In my approach to composition, the path a piece will take is never determined upfront. Form and structure do not exist prior to the realization of the piece: when I probe the imaginary world, indeterminacy is my modus operandi.

This approach begins with observations and explorations of sonic materials usually drawn from acoustic sources. As any good plastic artist, I explore every nook and cranny of this material: I knead it, chisel it, scratch it, cut it and colour it, until the material acts as a catalyst that reveals underground meanings. Through what I call “transcendent listening,” my explorations push me to neutralize the sediments of accrued meanings (the nature of reduced listening), allowing me to be on the lookout for deep-running trends that run through “unconscious space.”

To reappropriate Hans Robert Jauss’s beautiful expression about the process of anamnesis in literature, transcendent listening allows one “to push the interrogation to depths unavailable to surface perception, which has been banalized by habit, to find lost experiences in the unconscious realm and bring it into the art realm, where it becomes language.” [Hans Robert Jauss, Pour une esthétique de la réception (1978), Gallimard, Paris (France). Our translation.] The capturing power of transcendent listening feeds the creative act. It allows meanings to emerge as strong, prominent images that, when articulated, will sketch the shape of the work-to-be.

To probe the imagination, the immaterial realm through shaping and modeling sound is the modus operandi underpinning all the works on this album. “The audible part of the work is musical only if it evokes the inaudible,” rightly wrote Jean-François Lyotard. [Jean-François Lyotard, “Musique, mutique” in L’idée musicale (1993) edited by Christine Buci-Glucksmann and Michaël Levinas, Presses universitaires de Vincennes, Saint-Denis (France). Our translation.] The creative act transcends the perceptible reality of the audio material to probe the other world, the world of pure abstractions. The idealistic aspect of my approach resides in this dialectic between the audible (linked to modelling sonic matter in the blast furnaces of experimentation) and the sphere of the inaudible it attempts to penetrate.

This quest starts anew with each piece. And each time the creator believes he is getting closer to the purely inaudible, only to realize all the way left to go to get there, this inscrutable distance then reigniting the desire to create.

Stéphane Roy [English translation: François Couture, x-19]

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