Protopia / Tesseract

Elizabeth Anderson

  • Year of composition: 2005-07
  • Duration: 13:49
  • Instrumentation: 8-channel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T7021727040


The etymological roots of Protopia / Tesseract are Greek.

Protopia is a combination of two terms, proto (πρώτο) meaning first and topos (τοπος) meaning place. Its construction echoes that of utopia (ουτοπία), a term designating a fictional ideal place that is said not to exist, ou (ου) being the negation in Greek.

Tesseract derives from tesseres actines (τεσσερες ακτινες) meaning four rays, and refers in geometry to the four-dimensional analog of the three-dimensional cube where the tesseract would be to the cube what the cube is to the square.

The electroacoustic work Protopia / Tesseract is grounded in the literary interpretation of the tesseract proposed by Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) in the children’s fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time (1962), where intergalactic travel is made possible through spatio-temporal compression. Protopia / Tesseract aims to link the various images of fantasy that can come to a reader’s mind to the spatio-temporal evolution of sound and contrasts engendered by the multichannel electroacoustic medium.

The work opens with contrasting sound material placed in adjacent spaces. A slow morphological evolution conveys the impression of an initial sonic topography unfolding leisurely around the listener replete with foreground and background events. During the second movement, the sound world evolves towards a vast, lush spectral landscape, after which part of the sound material begins to spin in clockwise and counter clockwise rotations. These increase in speed and intensity and aim to call to mind the compression of space and time.


Protopia / Tesseract was realized in 2005-07 at the multitrack electroacoustic studio of City University London (England, UK), the Métamorphoses d’Orphée studio of Musiques & Recherches in Ohain (Belgium), and the Studio Akousma of the Academy of Soignies (Belgium), and premiered on May 8, 2007 during the Electroacoustic Concert 5 at City University London. Thanks to Jean-Louis Poliart, Denis Smalley, and Annette Vande Gorne. The piece was realized with the help of the ministry of Communauté française de Belgique. Protopia / Tesseract was awarded the 1st prize at the Musica Nova 2008 International Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Prague, Czech Republic) as well as an Honorable Mention at the Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica de São Paulo (CIMESP ’07, Brazil).



  • May 8, 2007, Electroacoustic Concert 5, Performance Space — College Building — City, University of London, London (England, UK)