Lauréat du concours de jeunes compositeurs de Radio-Canada en 82, il remporte le concours «Sound Page Competition» organisé par le magazine américain Keyboard en 86. Travail tout à fait différent de celui des deux compositeurs précèdents, sa musique possède des attaches beaucoup plus franches avec la musique traditionnelle (proche du jazz) et se caractérise par un jeu sur les rythmes et les différences d’attaques. Sa musique plaira sûrement à ceux qui aiment l’électroacoustique — pas trop — expérimentale et à ceux qui en ont un peu assez de la sclérose de la musique contemporaine instrumentale… voir même ou aux deux.
Idée originale et intéressante que celle de demander à 25 compositeurs de créer, chacun, une œuvre courte (trois minutes). Exercice de style moins aisé qu’il n’y parait dans la mesure où ces compositeurs sont habitués à évoluer sur une durée beaucoup plus longue. Cette difficulté ne semble pas étrangère aux compositeurs de musique électroacoustique, mais ce genre de CD permet néanmoins d’offrir un large éventail de styles. Espérons que cette initiative se réitérera sous d’autres formes…
Weird but appealing sounds bounce off the walls of the clapboard Western Front building on East Eighth Avenue.
Simultaneously, it seems as if some giant, gentle cosmic force is tapping the building with a pair of sticks, an organ reverberates at your back, and the pure, sweet line of a clarinet swirls around the centre of the room.
What is at work is North Vancouver composer Daniel Scheidt communicating through his computer and multi-track synthesizer with Québécois instrumentalist Claude Schryer, to create an interactive work for clarinet and electronics.
“It’s hard to put a finger on what it is,” says Scheidt, when asked to explain the improvisational nature of the computer-enhanced sound. “There’s a relationship that develops between the performer and my software — there’s that dialogue. The computer is following the live perfonnance. There’s a feedback loop, but it’s more like we’re both talking at once than a conversation. Both are listening to one another.”
Well, in the world of music-on-the-edge you don’t ask too many questions; it’s better to just listen.
“I would be very happy for people to say, ‘That was a different way to make music,’” Scheidt continues. “I think we need new wavs of thinking to help solve problems. I think there’s validity to posing the potential for newness. If I’m helping people to loosen up — then that’s my reward.”
Scheidt is one of eight composer/performers taking part in a cross-Canada tour of live electroacoustic concerts called Electro Traces.
The others are all from Montréal, and comprise what has been called “the hottest thing on the Canadian new music scene” — a group called DIFFUSION i MéDIA (co-founded by Schryer) that has made a series of compact discs on the empreintes DIGITALes label.
The tour began in Vancouver last week, with the release of Scheidt’s own new CD, Action/Réaction, featuring interaction with a number of prominent instrumentalists.
And while the Quebec musicians are most interested in the details of sound, Scheidt, who studied at Queen’s University and the University of Victoria, says he’s more into “the working process.”
“I’m making music in a non-traditional way. I don’t work with notation — and I’m using the computer to explore different kinds or relationships.”
He even presents musicians with puzzles and mazes to wander about in, and somehmes his installations invite public participation. However, “sound in the space” is the focus of the Electro Traces tour.
“All the other composers have a history of presentation — of exploring an acoustic space,” Scheidt says.
They use an eight-channel sound systern that will ‘spatialize’ the sound and rnove it around. Called ‘acousmadcs,’ it purports to offer a third dimension to musical works.
Picture yourself out on a brisk walk through pastoral surroundings, maybe in the city’s river valley. It’s that special twilight time at dawn when everything seems very still and quiet, save for your own lungs breathing rhythmically in and out, and the counterpoint of falling footsteps on a gravel path. Suddenly a distant tone catches the ear. It could be the blunt horn of a diesel locomotive or the call of a lonely animal, mechanical or organic in origin.
Then imagine all the stark atmospheric intensity of the experience magically crystallizing in sound.
Claude Schryer might call it a “cinema of the ear,” just one of the creative options he and a growing body of composers are working with in the field of “electroacoustic” music.
That term denotes a certain artistic intent to create within the confines of electronic technology and the studio using both acoustic, electronic and “found” or sampled sources of environmental sound. It’s a weirdly technical method used to shape natural soundscapes, often inspired by common every day experience, and it can be very subtly effective.
Schryer and his colleague Jean-Francois Denis are two Montréal musicians, both classically trained to begin with, who have been helping to further the electroacoustic movement in Canada.
They’re currently on a threeweek cross-country tour of major centres with four other like-minded composer-musicians. Called Electro Traces, the tour uses fresh sonic palettes and new means of manipulating the space in which we hear.
Wednesday afternoon, Schryer and composer Daniel Scheidt (Edmonton-born, now living in Vancouver) host a workshop/performance in Convocation Hall at the University of Alberta.
As Schryer plays clarinet, Scheidt will man a computer sound console that’s set to interact with the immediate sonic environment.
Just last year, Schryer and Denis formed the independent record label empreintes DIGITALes (digital imprints) with the intent of putting more electroacoustic music and musicians on the map.
The first four compact disc releases issued over the past six months use an amazing array of sources to pique the listener’s awareness, pushing at the conventions of what music is all about. Certainly it’s not the first time experimental music has made it to disc, but along with the tour, it does involve one of the most ambitious, carefully produced ventures in the field.
As that title implies, the producers wanted short musical pieces that might help the listener envision a series of sonic images, like film clips. Twenty-five electroacoustic artists from Canada the United States and Mexico were asked to submit works of about three minutes duration, a time set deliberately to challenge the notion of the pop single.
The resulting 75-minute disc presents what must be one of the finest overviews of the medium aviilable. Twenty-five black-and-white inserts by photographer Joanne Tremblay accompany the disc, matched with background notes on the artists and music for a beautifuL intriguing release.
Schryer stresses that while better technology has expanded the possibilities, the artist mustn’t lose his or her soul in the machine, but master the tools.
“The most interesting electroacoustic artists are the ones who are able to go beyond the technology and — like any interesting artistic medium — say something in a universal way.”
The future of the music remains to be seen. Schryer agrees that tbe increasingly sophisticated use of sounds and effects in various broadcast media is helping to make the public more receptive to different ways of seeing through sounds, but don’t expect to find his releases on the Billboard pop charts anytime soon.
Do try them out if you’re looking for a stimulating new sonic perspective on the world around you.
Some editions of new music are more moving than others. With a brave new concert tour called Electro Traces that concept applies in several ways.
For one thing, with four composers and a small squad of performers, the national concert tour of new Canadian electronic/acoustic music, which stops here Friday night for one performance at Centre culturel franco-manitobain, looks more like one of those old rock ’n’ roll package jaunts than a mobile promotion for new music.
“We’re covering all the bases with this,” enthused tour co-producer Jean-François Denis recently between rehearsals for the tour’s third performance, at The Banff Centre for the Arts.
The concerts are only part of it. Electro Traces also promotes the new Montréal label empreintes DIGITALes, which has just issued CDs by the four touring composers — Christian Calon, Robert Normandeau and Alain Thibault, all from Montréal, and Vancouver’s Daniel Scheidt.
For this tour, the composers will appear with Claude Schryer (clarinet), Trevor Tureski (percussion), Jacques Drouin (piano) and Catherine Lewis (soprano). An untimely attack of flu prevented another performer, the visionary American trombone, electronics expert George Lewis, from appearing.
Denis, 31, whose own musical training includes seven years of classical guitar studies in his native Montréal, followed later by formal studies in electroaoustic music, formed empreintes DIGITALes with Claude Schryer about a year ago.
At first, he said, the idea was to stage one showcase concert at Vancouver’s Western Front Society to promote the CDs. Then came the chance to do another gig, and soon the troupe found itself “just hopping off around the country.”
The first shows last weekend in Vancouver went well, he said. “The public was good, the reception was good.”
The challenge, however, is to reach the mainstream audience that has little or no exposure to modern avant-garde music, especially in Canadian cities where there is no concentrated community of instruction and performance to support it.
Unlike many electronic-based works, which depend on prerecorded tapes and are thus essentially an audio experience, the music in Electro Traces is designed for live performance.
Some of the music is performed completely live, with conventional instruments. Other entries mix live performance either with tapes or with an interactive computer system. “We’re having all the types of electroacoustic music on this tour.”
With eight speakers and a mixing board, the tour sound can be arranged for any performance dimension — it sounded fine in the demi-sphere of the Montréal Planetarium, he noted — and also changed in terms of dynamic and spatial relationships, with the expressiveness of a pianist. “You can have a really different experience with the sound,” Denis said.
It should also be a different experience for those who expect such sonic explorers to be a grim and scholarly lot. “We’re very nice people,” he said chuckling.
Pour ceux qui cherchent une expérience musicale hors de l’ordinaire, la Plug-In Gallery et le Centre culturel franco-manitobain vous donnent rendez-vous le 1er mars à 19h30 à la salle Jean-Paul-Aubry (CCFM) pour écouter de la musique électroacoustique.
«De la musique électroacoustique, c’est de la création sonore artistique avec appui technologique,» décrit Claude Schryer, un des six compositeurs-diffuseurs et interprètes qui seront à Saint-Boniface.
Le groupe de six entreprend la tournée pancanadienne Traces électro, pour promouvoir cinq disques de l’étiquette empreintes DIGITALes, la seule compagnie qui enregistre sur disques compacts de la musique électroacoustique.
Les compositeurs profitent aussi de la tournée pour promouvoir le médium peu connu de la musique électroacoustique, même si ce genre existe depuis 40 ans environ. «A Montréal et à Vancouver, il y beaucoup d’activité dans le domaine, mais dans le reste du Canada, c’est encore en évolution. Suite au concert, les artistes seront disponibles pour répondre aux questions.»
Les organisateurs de Traces électro emmènent avec eux en tournée un orchestre de huit haut-parleurs. Ces boites de son seront placées séparément dans la salle de concert pour permettre la spatialisation des sons. Cette technique se nomme «acousmatique» et offre une troisième dimension aux œuvres.
En plus des haut-parleurs, les musiciens seront là avec leurs instruments respectifs. «Par exemple, je suis clarinettiste et je vais interpréter une pièce pour clarinette et ordinateur. Un autre va jouer une pièce pour piano et bande, ou encore pour voix et ordinateur» ajoute Claude Schryer.
Selon lui, le concert attire ceux qui aiment la musique de concert contemporaine et la musique expérimentale.