Roxanne Turcotte


  • Roxanne Turcotte
  • Year of composition: 1985, 2002
  • Duration: 9:54
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Les belles heures — Société Radio-Canada (SRC)
  • ISWC: T0717540152

A flight over the phone book…

This version of Y---OW has been put together from the tapes — the titles of which are: Ha-lo [Hel-lo]; À l’eau [Jump in]; Ouf! [Phew!]; Interurbain [Long-distance Call]; King Kong; Le passé [The Past]; L’attente [The Waiting]; L’arnaque [The Swindling]; Bonne soirée [Good Evening]; Problèmes d’argent [Money Matters]; Au concert [At the Concert] — of the multimedia work by the same title (a sound and photography installation) realized with the photographer Marc Larochelle. It is a mixed presentation (a showing) of the themes and a glimpse at the interdependence existing among the tapes through common attractive elements, even though they stand by themselves as tiny musical pieces. Descriptive elements come back to create a link on many occasions, the answer or echo between the various tapes (phone rings, answering machine, conversations, water, laughs, screams).

Y---OW, standing for Yellow Pages, explores a number of themes revolving around a frame of mind, a feeling, communication or the unforeseen evoked by opening the Yellow Pages phone book. An interdependence between the tapes — each has its own theme — bridges gaps between emotions: sadness, joy, love, hate, annoyance, happiness, fear, anger, anxiety, distress, surprise and confusion.

The sound design of the piece was revised in 2002. While retaining the sound and feel of the ’80s, some modifications were made: more modern rings to bring a touch of progress, digital audio transfer and virtual sound effects. The ’80s recordings of telephone noises remain untouched. They have been made from a phone of that era and the interference is a constituent part of the work.

The original installation from 1985 consisted of 22 sound loops ranging from 40 seconds to three minutes in duration, 21 playback systems, an infrared system triggering a multitrack tape (a sound travelling through space), 18 photographic boxes with switch and built-in loudspeakers, two aerial sound devices and a device with headphones. The visitor was following a path of phone books, triggering a number of sound sequences intentionally (or not, thanks to switches strategically hidden around the room).

[English translation: François Couture, vi-03]

Y---OW was realized in 1995 at the Université de Montréal studio with the help of the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) (Explorations program) and revised in 2002 at the composer’s studio (Studio Séducson) in Montréal. It premiered on September 4, 1985 during the first festival Cent jours d’art contemporain de Montréal at the Powerhouse art gallery (the exhibit took place from September 4-21, 1985), produced by the Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal. A version for radio was commissioned in 1987 for the program Les belles heures produced by Hélène Prévost at the Société Radio-Canada. Excerpts from the listening score were published in issue 54 of Estuaire in 1989. Thanks to Denis, Geneviève and Chantal for their voices over the phone and King Kong’s shout, Michel Trépanier for his technical help, the Université de Montréal, and also Marcelle Deschênes who encouraged me in my artistic endeavor. Y---OW was awarded the Outstanding Original Achievement Award at the International New Music Composer’s Competition (USA, 1989/90) and the Silver Medal of the Hugh Le Caine Award (electroacoustic music) of the CAPAC Awards for Young Composers in 1985.




  • September 4, 1985, Cent jours d’art contemporain de Montréal 1985: Y---OW, La Centrale – [Powerhouse], Montréal (Québec)