Jonty Harrison


  • Jonty Harrison
  • Year of composition: 1997
  • Duration: 19:51
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: French State (Music Office), Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T9247804100

To my parents

Wood: a rich and fascinating sound source, here recorded in a variety of indoor and outdoor environments, and transformed using digital signal processing techniques. This work is concerned with parallel and complementary sound images of wood undergoing various processes of splintering, both naturally occurring (splitting, fragmenting, being chopped and trodden underfoot) and virtual/artificial (particularly shuffling and granulation processing in the time domain). In addition, the splintering of sound images in space (left/right; close/distant) is a fundamental issue in this work, as it is in the composition and performance of much acousmatic music.

Wood: organic material used throughout history in all kinds of ways and now being ruthlessly exploited in a negative manner, wholesale clearing of large areas of rain forest leaving the planet unable to renew life-sustaining resources. The balance of the environment itself is, consequently, splintering.

Wood: the place of the imagination, where wicked things lurk and strange things happen — not only where wolves pose as grandmothers, but where a prince meets a young girl (whose origins we never learn) weeping by the water; where a hero slays a dragon and, by tasting its blood, is able to understand birdsong; where a woman searches for the lover she may have killed — or is it merely a manifestation of the ‘deep forest’ of one’s own subconscious?

When wood is attacked it splinters. Splinters are dangerous — they retaliate! We have been warned.


Splintering was realized in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and premiered on June 1, 1997 in the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France). The piece was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris).


  • June 1, 1997, Son-Mu 97: Concert, Salle Olivier Messiaen — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)