A Storm of Drones (3 × CD) Track listing detail

Tangram

Robert Normandeau

  • Year of composition: 1989-92, 93
  • Duration: 13:36
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Tangram is also the name of a Chinese puzzle consisting of seven fundamental geometric forms from which one can reconstruct existing patterns, or create new configurations. This work is inspired by the spirit of the game, the ability to associate and combine simple elements to form recognizable complex structures, recognizable because of the very figurative representations. This piece is part of the ‘cinema for the ear’ opus, a cycle of work undertaken and developed from 1990-93. Tangram consists of six sections and takes the listener on a tour of the seasons, highlighting the elements and materials associated with each.


Tangram was produced between 1989 and ’92 then reworked in ’93 at the composer’s studio. Certain sounds come from the collection of instruments of the Department of Ethnomusicology of the Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal. In addition, it contains Fragments, a work commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal for the concert inaugurating its new edifice on May 29, 1992. Tangram was presented on May 19 and 20, 1992 at the Planétarium de Montréal during the celebrations for the 350th anniversary of the founding of the city of Montréal. Tangram was made possible by grants from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA) and from the ministère des Affaires culturelles du Québec.


Premiere

  • May 19, 1992, 350e de Montréal — Tangram: Concert 1, Planétarium de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)

Valley Flow

Denis Smalley

  • Year of composition: 1991-92
  • Duration: 7:07
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: BEAST with support from West Midlands Arts

The formal shaping and sounding content of Valley Flow were influenced by the dramatic vistas of the Bow Valley in the Canadian Rockies. The work is founded on a basic flowing gesture. This motion is stretched to create airy, floating and flying contours or broad panoramic sweeps, and contracted to create stronger physical motions, for example the flinging out of textural materials. Spatial perspectives are important in an environmentally inspired work. The listener, gazing through the stereo window, can adopt changing vantage points; at one moment looking out to the distant horizon, at another looking down from a height, at another dwarfed by the bulk of land masses, and at yet another swamped by the magnified details of organic activity. Landscape qualities are pervasive: water, fire and wood; the gritty, granular fracturing of stoney noise-textures; and the wintery, glacial thinness of sustained lines. The force and volatility of nature are reflected in abrupt changes and turbulent textures.

[ix-92]


Valley Flow was composed at The Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada) in 1991 and was completed at the composer’s studio in Norwich (UK) in 1992. It incorporates sounds created at IRCAM in Paris (France) during a previous research period (1989) and further materials subsequently developed at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (Canada) in 1991. Valley Flow was premiered on February 27, 1992 in a concert broadcast live from BBC Pebble Mill Studios. This piece was commissioned by the Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST) with funds provided by West Midlands Arts.


Premiere

  • February 27, 1992, Music in our Time, Pebble Mill Studios — British Broadcasting Corporation, Birmingham (England, UK)

Awards

… mourir un peu, 1: Marine

Francis Dhomont

  • Duration: 2:03
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Overture. Massalia/Marseille.

[ix-91]

Lune noire

Patrick Ascione

  • Year of composition: 1987, 89
  • Duration: 4:44
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Ina-GRM
To Évelyne

Through the play of opposites and the confrontation of unique forms, the piece develops the evolving discourse of this combination to the detriment of the evocative power of the sounds themselves. These ‘painted’ forms (more pictorial than musical in their conception) are a means of integrating the sound colors (a non-synæsthetic perception) with the quasi-plastic gestures of their temporal disposition. However, the sonorities are employed less for their semantic value than as a pretext for the elaboration of characteristic formal metamorphoses whose function is to imprint, upon their return, a role and a unity, an accent particular to these sounds. A crossing which symbolizes the obscurity to be overcome, the successive stages of fascination; incomplete poles of illusion or of reason.

Lune noire (Black Moon) is composed of two almost equal parts punctuated by Thème de Lilith (Theme of Lilith), a short isolating movement or interlude. Each of these two parts treat the two contradictory poles of this great astrological subject: the first, Lac noir (Black Lake), of the transmutation towards disintegration; the second, La porte étroite (The Narrow Door), of the transmutation towards a state of freedom.


Lune noire was commissioned by the Ina-GRM and was realized in 1987 at the Ina-GRM studios. The work was premiered on February 15, 1988 at the Grand Auditorium of Maison de Radio France during the Cycle acousmatique series. It was selected for the 1st Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1989) and, for that occasion, was recorded on the compact disc Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (NOR 1) in 1990.


Premiere

  • February 15, 1988, Cycle acousmatique 1988: Concert, Grand Auditorium — Maison de la radio, Paris (France)

Terre

Annette Vande Gorne

  • Year of composition: 1989-91
  • Duration: 6:36
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Ina-GRM

•• Fusion: Last element in the Tao cycle, the Earth is the place for transformation and fusion, it is the melting pot of the other materials. It is also the last step of knowledge: that of the synthesis between things. Paradoxically — once again sight is deceiving — it is more about Energy than Matter, of primeval energy in two forms: radiation and particles.

The transformations of excerpts from the four other elements fit seven models: mechanism (repetition), wave (ebb-flow), door (opening-closing), breath/ejection, breath/crawling, corpuscles, rotation.

They go through a common process that emphasizes intermodulations, transformations, and, once ‘remusicalized’ and changed in time by the play-sequence technique, they generate strange similarities: from Diversity to Unity. Everything is in everything else: Tao.

Sounds are then reclassified according to dynamic criteria of movements, energies, and development in time: in continuous movement (spiral, fall, projection, crawling); in broken balance (chaos, truncations, clusters, rhythm — Yang); and motionless (rotation, shimmering-allures, repetition, contemplation — Yin).

•• Symbol: Before creation: symmetry and motionlessness. Asymmetry, movement and impact: released energy. Particles, organization of the matter. Magma, flow and ebb. Manifestation of the matter, union. Dance of life. Breath. Upward spiral. Setbacks and new starts. Towards Ω.

•• Form: The general form is a double conical spiral whose base is located in the centre: from creation (radiation, particles) — manifestation of matter and rhythm — to Ω.

It is in constant evolution: variations. The descending fifth (sky/earth of the Tao) constitutes its central tonic axis. The form also integrates 8-track spatialization as a criterion for evolution: space is structured by geometrical figures.

These figures, as well as all the internal movements that run through them, are linked to the temporal structure of the piece, which is based in external time on a gradual lengthening of each of the parts joined together, and on a gradual speeding up of internal (psychological) time.

•• Anecdote: The moral (Pierre Schaeffer’s “Leçon de chose”) to be gained from the experience of Terre (Earth) is the following: the internal energy of a sound, its movement, its morphology, can resist for a long time to any type of transformation process, even cumulative processes. A mark, a trace, of the original remains. Perhaps only the dissociation of a sound into elements arbitrarily redistributed in time can reduce that given sound to a neutral object, fit for any use, a note.

•• Spatialization: The concert 8-track version (of 1991) requires a minimum of 12 or 16 loudspeakers set up in two groups, one of them placed in a frontal position (tracks 5-8) and the other one around the public (tracks 1-4) — in a traditional concert hall —, or one in an inner ring facing the public and the other surrounding the public seated in a circle — in an appropriate setting or outdoors.

[xii-93]


Terre [Earth] was realized at the GRM in their SYTER and 123 studios (Paris, France), and mixed at the Métamorphoses d’Orphée studio (Ohain, Belgium). It premiered on January 30, 1991 in a concert of the Clair de terre series organized by the Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec (ACREQ), under the direction of Robert Normandeau, at the Planétarium de Montréal (Québec). The work was commissioned by the Ina-GRM. Many thanks to Yann Geslin and Daniel Teruggi for their essential and persevering help.


Premiere

  • January 30, 1991, Clair de terre II: Concert 4 — L’espace du son, Planétarium de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)

… mourir un peu, 9: Il ritorno [sections 1 & 2]

Francis Dhomont

  • Duration: 2:27
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

In the steps of Ulysses.

[ix-91]

Crystal Music

Stéphane Roy

  • Year of composition: 1992-94
  • Duration: 12:19
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: ACREQ, with support from the CCA
To Claudine

Material substances and sound substance have never been so closely associated as in the acousmatic genre. Crystal Music, which originates in this genre, is a music of forms, colors and materials shaped by kinetic energies and perspectives in the inner space of the work. Like glasswork, the material has been expanded, moulded, transmuted in the fiery furnaces of experimentation. Like crystal, it has been worked upon by the imagination which imbues its transparency with the power of illusion.

Beyond pure matter, there still remain certain sham voices lost in factual collages, but also rhetorical phenomena of ruptures and antagonistic relationships between musical characters, strained nodes, suddenly subjugated by the whimsicality of an arabesque. The work is permeated by a bountiful style employing sound material as others use flat areas of color which they scratch with a nervous, angular graphism: it thus reveals a desire for plasticity which soon enough betrays a dramatic expression.


This work, composed largely with Bill Schottstaedt’s Common Lisp Music program, could not have been realized without the technical support and exceptional conditions I enjoyed at CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) at Stanford University (California, USA) during the year 1992-93, as well as in the studios at the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal in 1994. The work was premiered on March 3, 1994 at the Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur in Montréal during the 15th anniversary concert of ACREQ (Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec). Crystal Music was commissioned by ACREQ with support from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA). I wish to thank the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal for having lent me its studios in order to complete the piece. Crystal Music was awarded the First Prize at the 3rd Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1994). Crystal Music previously appeared on the compact disc Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot 1993 (NOR 3).


Premiere

  • March 3, 1994, 15e anniversaire, Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Montréal (Québec)

Awards

Là où vont les nuages…

Gilles Gobeil

  • Year of composition: 1990-91
  • Duration: 7:44
  • Instrumentation: ondes Martenot, interactive system and stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Yul média

In this piece, the ondes Martenot is linked to a MIDI converter, enabling the performer to play, in addition to her instrument, other MIDI instruments (synthesizer, sampler, and the entirety of the processing). This ’super-instrument’ gives access to a profusion of sounds — simple and complex — which surround and accompany the timbre of the ondes Martenot while remaining responsive to the nuances imparted by the performer.

[v-94]


Là où vont les nuages… [Where the Clouds Go…] was realized in the composer’s studio in 1990. It was presented on June 5, 1991 by Suzanne Binet-Audet, to whom this work is dedicated, during the 3rd CEC Electroacoustic Days, >>Perspectives->->, at Concordia University in Montréal. It was also presented at the 1993 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’93) in Tokyo (Japan). Là où vont les nuages… was finalist at the 23rd Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1996).


Premiere

  • June 5, 1991, Suzanne Binet-Audet, ondes Martenot; Gilles Gobeil, diffusion • >>Perspectives->->: Concert, Salle de concert — Université Concordia, Montréal (Québec)

Cristaux liquides

Mario Rodrigue

  • Year of composition: 1990
  • Duration: 3:36
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Yul média

Sound poetry inspired by two different physical states of water — the solid and the liquid. The solid, with its fixed, crystalline movements, superimposed upon the undulations of the liquid. Evocation of the avalanches of color characteristic of liquid crystals.


Cristaux liquides [Liquid Crystals] was realized in 1990 in the studios of the Faculty of Music of the Université de Montréal and at the composer’s studio: the first minute was composed with the use of a Fairlight, the eight following minutes with an Akai S1000 sampler and RealTime software on an Atari 1040st. The final mix was produced on April 7th,1990 at the Cinar studio with the assistance of engineer Alain Roy. Cristaux liquides was presented on April 25, 1990 as part of the Clair de terre concert series at the Planétarium de Montréal. Cristaux liquides was awarded a mention at the 19th Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1991).


Premiere

  • April 4, 1990, Clair de terre I: Concert 6, Planétarium de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)

Awards

Hot Air

Jonty Harrison

  • Year of composition: 1995
  • Duration: 3:57
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Ina-GRM

One of the principal source sounds for this work — balloons from children’s parties — gave rise to a train of thought which, after linking ‘toy’ balloons to ‘hot air’ balloons, went on to draw in numerous other concepts of air (breath, utterance, natural phenomena) and heat (energy, action, danger).

As work on the sound material progressed, other notions of air became important: motion through space; a certain fleeting quality; and air as the principal medium for the transmission of sound itself. The manner in which this happens (each air molecule vibrating about its current position and passing its energy on to its neighbor in alternating patterns of compression and rarefaction) became a model for the structure of the piece itself — a free association of sounds and references, each linking with and influencing its neighbor. Gradually, the referential, mimetic and environmental aspects of the piece revealed another, altogether more worrying image: that of the inflated balloon as a metaphor of the fragility of that very environment, of the Earth itself — capable of being manipulated, but not infinitely so.

But beware! Danger! I run the risk of becoming too pompous, too ‘inflated’ with the importance of my theme. We should not forget that, in colloquial English, if what someone says is “hot air,” it means it lacks real substance, is rubbish, meaningless, bluff, all talk and no action, empty words…


Hot Air was composed using the Groupe de recherches musicales’ (GRM) SYTER and GRM Tools systems for the development of sound materials and the later stages in the compositional process took place at the composer’s studio and in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK). The work was first performed as part of the Son Mu concert series in the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France) on May 22, 1995. Hot Air was commissioned by the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM). Thanks to Daniel Teruggi of the Ina-GRM for his help and patience.


Premiere

  • May 22, 1995, Jonty Harrison, diffusion • Son-Mu 95: Concert, Salle Olivier Messiaen — Maison de la radio, Paris (France)

Awards

Veils

Paul Dolden

  • Year of composition: 1984-85
  • Duration: 9:25
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Veils, subtitled Studies in Textural Transformations, is a series of textures or walls of sound which act as an invitation for the listener to explore an environment where new acoustic sensations and associations can be discovered. The texture, a sustained chord of usually 14-56 notes, is constantly transforming by changing the instrument type that is articulating the sound (ie from strings to voice, to brass, to piano, to marimba, to glass, etc). No electronic effects were used and only straight recordings and mixing of acoustic instruments were used. However, the sound source or instrument type at any moment is not usually obvious to the listener, hence the sound sources are ‘veiled.’ This veiled sound is created by three main factors: the extensive multitracking (from 180 to 280 tracks of the same instrument are used at any one moment), the tuning of the chords (microtonal intervals which do not occur in our normal 12-Tone Equal Tempered Tuning System), and the recording method of close miking in a dead acoustical space which brings out aspects of each instrument type that we normally do not hear. The title also aludes to a real veil where one can switch between seeing individual strands and viewing the overall pattern. In Veils it is imagined that the listener can freely drift from one type of perception to another (ie micro to macro level or individual layer to mass effect).


The recording stages of Veils were realized at the composer’s studio and the premixing and final mastering took place in the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC). The piece premiered on August 19, 1985 at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC ’85) in Vancouver (BC). The work won 2nd prize in the Electroacoustic category of the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Bourges, France, 1986); the 3rd prize of the Luigi Russolo International Competition (Varese, Italy, 1986); and it was awarded a 1992 Euphonie d’or “as one of the twenty most significant works from two decades of the Bourges Awards.”


Premiere

  • August 19, 1985, ICMC 1985: Listening Session 1, Simon Fraser University – Theatre, Burnaby (British Columbia, Canada)

Awards

Night Camera, 1: Maritime Vision

Darren Copeland

  • Duration: 5:39
  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Reaching for Tomorrow

Darren Copeland / Darren Copeland

  • Year of composition: 1995
  • Duration: 3:05
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média


Reaching for Tomorrow premiered as part of ISEA95_Montréal, the International Symposium for Electronic Art in September 1995. The work received a mention in the Luigi Russolo International Competition (Varese, Italy, 1995). Special thanks to: Conrad Alexandrowicz Theatrical Dance, Rumble Theatre, and Mandrake Theatre for the memorable creative interaction; Paul Dolden and the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) for providing studio resources; and DB Boyko of the Western Front for providing support through the Recommender Program of the Province of British Columbia’s Cultural Services Branch.

Premiere

  • September 1995, ISEA95_Montréal: Concert, Montréal (Québec)

Awards

Moiré

Maggi Payne

  • Year of composition: 1996
  • Duration: 13:04
  • Instrumentation: fixed medium

In the Valley of Shadows… (DJ Spooky Takes a Walk Through New York City)

DJ Spooky

  • Duration: 2:23

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