Robert Normandeau


  • Robert Normandeau
  • Year of composition: 2005-06, 07
  • Duration: 14:50
  • Instrumentation: 24-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: IMEB
  • ISWC: T9113325205

To Lorraine

A palindrome is a succession of graphical signs (letters, numbers, symbols…) that can be read from left to right as well as from right to left. “Laval” is an example of a word palindrome. The French writer Georges Pérec (1936-1982) is famous for his 1247 words palindrome written in 1969, Le grand palindrome, which was only surpassed in number of words in July 2004 by Le palindrome de Saint-Gilles by Pol Kools which is made of 2119 words. In music some examples of this can be found in the cancrizan canon.

The palindrome referred to by the title belongs to the form as well as to the sound material itself. Everything was made in such a way that the listening experience would be the same in both directions, from the sounds themselves to the general structure of the work, through the channels of the stereo files, the order of the 24 tracks spatialization, the levels of the different curves of the mixing and the musical phrases.

The form is identical, symmetrical in both directions and it is made of two mixings of the same 96 tracks whose «weight», instead of the exact similarity, is the same from the beginning to the end and vice verse. The only difference between the two mixings that I have introduced for musical reasons, is that the first mixing is a decrescendo that begins with a tutti which is gradually filtered to the high frequency register while the second one is a crescendo that begins with the low frequency register gradually increased to a tutti. That could be considered a vertical palindrome!

Palindrome is part of a cycle of deep listening works which propose a listening of the inside of the sound material, instead of listening to many different and articulated series of events, like one can find in most of the electroacoustic music works, as well as in my own works. There are very few events to hear in this work, which is made of predictable changes and a slow evolution over time characteristic this kind of work. It really makes sense in a deep listening attitude present in a concert situation, the ideal place of the ritual.


Palindrome was realized in 2005 at the composer’s studio as well as in the studios of the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB, France) and in 2006 in the Elektronisches Studios of the Technische Universität Berlin (Germany). The work premiered on June 7, 2006 at the Synthèse festival in Bourges (France). The work was later revised in 2007. Palindrome was commissioned by the IMEB. Thanks to Delphine Measroch, accordion; Émilie Laforest, Gregory Llady, voices; the organ and the bells of the Bourges cathedral. Thanks to Françoise Barrière and Folkmar Hein.


  • June 7, 2006, Synthèse 2006: Concert, Bourges (Cher, France)