- Year of composition: 2008
- Duration: 60:00
- Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
- Commission: HCMF
When discussions first started with the Artistic Director of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF), Graham McKenzie, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of musique concrète and the pioneering work of Pierre Schaeffer, we quickly dismissed the idea of presenting a historical overview of ‘significant works’ and focused on the creation of a new original work. That composition would show how Schaeffer’s ideas were still important and relevant to today’s sound artists and composers who are working across a wide range of experimental electronic music.
Thus began Project.
From the outset, the involvement and the contribution of sound materials by over 60 of the world’s leading electronic composers and sound artists were essential. During the early months of 2008 a steady stream of emails went back and forth across the globe as more and more sound artists, composers, laptop improvisors, and experimental turntablists accepted my invitation to take part and contribute. The response was overwhelming.
The project had two distinct pre-compositional stages. Each of the participants was initially asked to contribute one sound object or a short improvisation with a sound object. Nothing was prescribed as I wanted everyone to respond to the concept of the project in their own way. Each of these sounds was uploaded to an ftp site which acted as a repository for all of the material.
For the second stage, I asked all the participants to create a variety of sound treatments based on any of the initial material. This second stage produced some wonderful and unexpected sound fragments. Some decided to focus on a small number of sounds and develop short or in some cases extended phrases, whilst others set out to utilize all of the material in a variety of imaginative means. These second stage processed sounds were again uploaded to the ftp site.
In July of 2008, I took all the sound material from both stage one and two to the Ina-GRM studio in Paris where the final work, Project, was assembled. I set myself similar limits that Francis Dhomont had established with his Frankenstein Symphony (1997) — a work made up of layering and mixing fragments of works by multiple composers.
I allowed myself to cut and edit material to suit the compositional purpose and to layer material. A limited amount of transposition was used in order to facilitate the seamless transition from one section of material to another. At no point did I process any of the sounds further.
During the creation and final mixing of the piece I was able to assemble imaginary ensembles of musicians. Some of these are more obvious: Christian Fennesz duetting with Tim Hecker and then with eRikm, a vocal trio of AGF — Iris Garrelfs — Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje. Other combinations were not so obvious: Andrew Lewis — Dror Fieler — Donnacha Dennehy, and Pedro Rebelo — Pierre Alexandre Tremblay — David Toop — eRikm are just two such unusual groups.
Although Project flows seamlessly in one continuous movement, there are a number of discernible sections and subsections. Overall, the work is in three sections each roughly 20 minutes. The first section comprises three subsections made from abstract electronic and concrète sounds. The second section comprises concrète and anecdotal material and comprises two subsections: a seascape and an urban soundscape. The third section with its three subsections provides a balance to the first and marks a return to ambient electronic and finally vocal sounds. These sections indications are merely a guide to the listener. Some sounds occur in different movements fulfilling a different function in each as they move from background to foreground in the mix.
This large and ambitious collaborative project presents a unique cross-section of contemporary practice in sound art and brings together musicians from all around the globe in a piece that celebrates Schaeffer’s revolution in sound.
Those who took part with their generosity of time and sounds are: A_dontigny, AGF, Lars Åkerlund, Michael Alcorn, Javier Álvarez, Miguel Azguime, Natasha Barrett, François Bayle, Gonzalo Biffarella, Ludger Brümmer, Mira Calix, Christian Calon, Lawrence Casserley, Richard Chartier, Rhodri Davies, Vladislav Delay, Donnacha Dennehy, Francis Dhomont, Lawrence English, eRikm, Dror Feiler, Christian Fennesz, Ambrose Field, Iris Garrelfs, Gilles Gobeil, Kink Gong, Jonty Harrison, Tim Hecker, Erdem Helvacioglu, Zoë Irvine, Christina Kubisch, Diane Labrosse, Andrew Lewis, Mats Lindström, Francisco López, Eric Lyon, Stephan Mathieu, Adrian Moore, Åke Parmerud, Gert-Jan Prins, Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, Pedro Rebelo, Steve Roden, Sébastien Roux, Scanner, Janek Schaefer, Conrad Schnitzler, Si-cut.db, Wayne Siegel, Rodrigo Sigal, Sogar, Pete Stollery, Paulina Sundin, Kees Tazelaar, Terre Thaemlitz, Todor Todoroff, Kasper T Toeplitz, David Toop, Germán Toro-Pérez, Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, Hans Tutschku, Rodrigo Cicchelli Velloso, Marc Weiser / Rechenzentrum, Yeoh Yin Pin, John Young, and Christian Zanési.
Project was realized in 2008 at the composer’s studio and mixed at the Studio 116C of the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM) in Paris (France) and premiered on November 28, 2008 during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF). It was commissioned by the HCMF. Thanks to all 66 contributors.
- November 28, 2008, Monty Adkins, diffusion • hcmf// 2008: 32. 60 Project, The North Light Gallery, Huddersfield (England, UK)