Portrait Montréal

Christian Bouchard

  • Year of composition: 2014-15
  • Duration: 13:52
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T3180381635


ISRC CAD502310007

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

To Yves Daoust

I am a location sound recordist by trade, so the idea of simply going outside to capture environmental sounds in stereo was accompanied by a strong sense of déjà vu. That is why I decided to multiply and diversify the sources I recorded.

Montréal, October 10, 2013 & January 16, 2014. Over six hours of eight-track recordings made from my car. Those are the tracks: one microphone on the roof of the car, pointing backwards; another one inside the car; one track capturing the firemen’s radio frequency broadcast from the Internet; one track doing the same thing for the police’s radio frequency on the Internet; one track for the weather shortwave radio station, and; the last three tracks recording various FM radio stations. The journey starts in Montréal’s Old Port, goes downtown, then moves to the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood and ends at Mont-Royal’s Camilien-Houde Belvedere.

I would like to dedicate this piece to Yves Daoust, whose music was constantly in my mind throughout this adventure… Adagio, L’Entrevue, Suite baroque, Petite musique sentimentale, Fantaisie… The archival document, the art of playing, the rigour, the let’s-stop-being-so-serious moments, the electroacoustic counterpoint…

I started composing first drafts simply by editing these recordings in an attempt to sculpt the material, to push it to the extreme and see how far I could go without resorting to effects or synthesizers. I looped very short segments and then simply had fun mixing the eight tracks and automating extreme changes in volume and panning to bring forth the material’s musical dynamism. To my surprise, I added very little effects and synths to this audio portrait. When the time came to put everything in sequence, I let the dramatic events from the police radio guide me; so many incidents happened in the short time I was recording that they became the core of the piece. And then there is the weather station bringing some lightheartedness to the mix by reminding us that the world is still turning. So here are a few moments in the life of Montréal!

[English translation: François Couture, iv-23]

Portrait Montréal [Montréal Portrait] was realized in 2014-15 at the composer’s studio in Montréal and was premiered on December 1st, 2016 as part of the concert Électrochoc 3: Christian Bouchard at the Studio multimédia of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. This work was realized with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ). Thank you to the poet/playwright Nathalie Boisvert and the puppeteer/stage director Antoine Laprise.


  • 2013-10-10, Montréal (Québec)
  • 2014-01-16, Montréal (Québec)



  • December 1, 2016, Électrochoc 2016-17: Électrochoc 3: Christian Bouchard, Studio multimédia — Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)