Normandeau’s compositions are for the largest part acousmatic. Acousmatic is a term that comes from the Pythagorean brotherhood, who had to listen to lectures delivered from behind a curtain. In an acousmatic musical composition the apprehension of sound has no relation to its source. I don’t really know what Mr. Normandeau’s exact interpretation of this is, as it is very difficult for a listener ‘not’ to perceive the sources of the sounds in his music.
But, that put aside, listening to Lieux inouïs (Unheard-of Places) is a very rewarding effort. The music is bound thematically (e.g. Jeu is a travel along all aspects of game and play) and musically left much more free, although there is a strong stuctural set-up. In contrary to lots of electroacoustic works wich constantly make the listener aware of the fact that he/she is listening to something very technical Normandeau’s pieces develop quite naturally. Following the acousmatic character, the music sounds like a sonic film.
It was a surprise to listen to Thibault’s cd. Whereas the music of the other cd’s was based on soundscape, on Volt we hear something quite different. Structure and tempo are most important. Thibault has written for MIDI-piano, saxophone, soprano and tape. There is a lot of persussion, obviuosly digital, with very fast and intricate rhythm patterns. Thibault combines rock, jazz and “studio-pop” in compositions with names like ELVIS (Électro-lux, vertige illimité synthétique).
The Électro clips sampler contains 25 3-minute compositions. This really is a refreshing way of listening to electroacoustic music. Electroacoustic compositions tend to last at least 10 minutes. Here the composer (a.o. Dan Lander, Hildegard Westerkamp, Charles Amirkhanian) is forced to make a clear statement within a short period of time. And I must say that most of them manages rather well. This cd offers varied and very ‘entertaining’ electroacoustic music, something wich I have been missing lately.
All cd’s are accompanied by extensive reading material, explaining the background of all music and composers on this cd. empreintes DIGITALes has produced a fine set of state-of-the-art music which I can recommend. There are more releases coming and I can’t wait to hear them.
Action/Réaction is the most recent offering from empreintes DIGITALes’ expanding catalogue of electroacoustic recordings. A collection of Daniel Scheidt ’s work from the past five years, this compact an disc provides a fascinating introduction to his work with interactive music systems. One of the strongest aspects of the disc is the participation of five outstanding performers who have worked extensively with Scheidt during the development of his compositional software. One is introduced to the many facets and possibilities of this music through the unique personalities and talents of each performer, a point in favour of not only the compositional approach, but also the listening value of the disc.
Action/Réaction opens with Obeying the Laws of Physics (1987), one of Scheidt’s earliest interactive works, and one that has been extensively performed by percussionist Trevor Tureski. An edge that existed in early performances of this work seems to have been replaced by a more subtle interaction: a finer balance between periods of furious activity, and moments of reflection where every minute sound is given time to appear, speak, and exit. The difficulty in distinguishing the sounds which are initiated by Tureski’s octapad playing and those that are generated in response by the computer contributes to the excitement of this work in concert, but also to a sense of ambiguity on the recording. (One is tempted here to make a visual analogy between the recording of interactive computer music with the filming of dance.) It is important to keep in mind that this disc presents particular “versions" of Scheidt’s works and that part of the strength of his compositional language is its flexibility, from its algorithmic point of origin to the ever-changing shapes and hues that arise with every subsequent performer and performance. A Digital Eclogue (1986) represents the roots of Scheidt’s interactive explorations. It is fitting that this 1986 recording, with long-standing collaborator Claude Schryer on clarinet, is included amongst its recent brethren, not only for its engaging improvisational flavor, but also for the sensitive exchange between performer and computer. Stories Told (1989) is one of the most striking works on the disc. Soprano Catherine Lewis weaves a fascinating series of ’stories’ with a fabricated computer language provided by Robin Dawes. From the hauntingly suspended aria at the centre of the work, the robust opening and penultimate story, to the final pensive tale, Stories Told successfully explores our ability to attribute sense to vocal and syntactic inflexion and nuance, while simultaneously immersing this exploration in arresting sonic garments. (The texts for these stories are included in the CD booklet for your reading and sounding pleasure.) Norm ’n George (1990) leads us on an extensive journey with tour guide and trombonist extraordinaire George Lewis. Lewis is renowned for his own interactive excursions and brings to this work an extensive improvisational vocabulary. Lewis’ extended playing techniques often mask their acoustic origins and create an intriguing timbral and gestural blend with the digital responses of Scheidt’s system. Squeeze (1990) employs the sensitive playing of bass clarinetist Lori Freedman, and explores another dimension of the same program used in Norm ’n George . The clarinet and computer squeeze each other almost imperceptibly from pitch to pitch creating soft, vibrant clusters that ascend throughout the work, broken only momentarily at the end with a series of gracefully descending glissandi.
The overall presentation of Action/Réaction and the French/English supporting documentation are attractive, pertinent and engaging, an ongoing mark of quality from empreintes DIGITALes.
If you didn’t take the opportunity to get in touch with the Canadian Electroacoustic Community when I mentioned it a while back, you have missed out on some unusual, sometimes unsettling, music. Here’s more reasons to write. Daniel Scheidt is a computer composer, using software as an instrument to perform on, and perform with. Through techno-wizardry that I frankly don’t care to understand, he makes the computer interactive with percussionists, singers and all sorts of musicians’ input. This is not pre-programmed “hearts of space” stuff, but truly daring, ever-changing adventures in the outside possibilities of sound. Some pieces skirt the edge of melody, like Obeying the Laws of Physics, which pits a percussionist against a program of synthesizers, creating sounds and changing the drum sounds in ways that are probably as surprising to the player as the listener. Another Norm ’n George pits a trombone player against a hard disc and computer operator in a most remarkable, if sometimes dissonant, improvisation. Most unusual is a program that generates a highly developed, yet completely fictitious language, a story to be told for its emotion instead af its content. These are strangely beautiful compositions at times, not “relaxing” but very challenging. Action/Réaction is a truly collaborative effort between the composer and five musicians, and must be heard.
Ce compositeur de Victoria étale cinq créations réalisées entre 1987 et 1990. Le concept: le jeu des musiciens est analysé par un ordinateur qui absorbe les sons pour les restituer transformés. Avec comme invité un maître du genre le tromboniste George Lewis. Expérience concluante professeur.