Artistes Natasha Barrett

Natasha Barrett s’intéresse surtout à la composition et aux utilisations créatives du son. Sa production englobe la composition pour concert, l’art sonore, les grandes installations sonores à composante architecturale, la collaboration avec des designers expérimentaux et des scientifiques, l’interprétation d’œuvres acousmatiques et, plus récemment, l’improvisation électroacoustique en direct. Qu’elles soient écrites pour des interprètes en chair et en os ou pour des forces électroacoustiques, ses œuvres résultent d’une approche acousmatique du son, des images auditives que peut susciter le son et d’un intérêt dans les techniques qui permettent de dévoiler des détails que l’oreille normale raterait. Son travail fait une large place au potentiel spatiomusical de son acousmatique.

Natasha Barrett a étudié avec Jonty Harrison (University of Birmingham, Angleterre, RU) et Denis Smalley (City University, Londres, Angleterre, RU) pour ses diplômes de maîtrise et de doctorat en composition. Ces études ont été financées par la section des sciences humaines de la British Academy.

Depuis 1999, la Norvège lui sert de plateforme internationale de recherche et de composition.

On joue les œuvres de Natasha Barrett et on lui en commande partout dans le monde. Elle a présenté ses installations en Norvège, en Suède, au Danemark, en Finlande et en Australie. En tant qu’interprète d’œuvres acousmatiques, elle parcourt le monde pour collaborer avec des orchestres de haut-parleurs, diverses solutions plus petites et des projets d’art sonore.

Son travail de compositrice lui a valu de nombreuses distinctions, notamment le Giga-Hertz-Preis (Karlsruhe, Allemagne, 2008), le Nordic Council Music Prize (Scandinavie, 2006), des prix du Concours international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (France, 1995, 98, 2001, 06), le prix Edvard (Norvège, 2004), le prix Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1998, 2002), le 9e IREM (2002), Musica Nova (Prague, République tchèque, 2001), le Concurso Internacional de Música Eletroacústica de São Paulo (IV CIMESP, Brésil, 2001), le Concours SCRIME (France, 2000), le Ciber@RT (Espagne, 1999), le prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Autriche, 1998) et le Concours Luigi-Russolo (Italie, 1995, 98).

Ses œuvres sont publiées sous plusieurs maisons de disques, dont Albedo, Aurora, Centaur, Elektron, empreintes DIGITALes, Euridice, Mnémosyne Musique Média et +3dB.

[traduction française: François Couture, xii-09]

Natasha Barrett

Norwich (Angleterre, RU), 1972

Résidence: Hvalstad (Norvège)

  • Compositrice

Ensembles associés

Sur le web

Natasha Barrett [Photo: Jan Erik Breimo, Hvalstad (Norvège), 4 septembre 2016]
Natasha Barrett [Photo: Jan Erik Breimo, Hvalstad (Norvège), 4 septembre 2016]
  • Natasha Barrett [Photo: Jan Erik Breimo, Hvalstad (Norvège), 4 septembre 2016]
  • Natasha Barrett [Photo: Svein Berge, Oslo (Norvège), 23 novembre 2009]
  • Natasha Barrett [Photo: Svein Berge, Oslo (Norvège), 23 novembre 2009]
  • Natasha Barrett [Photo: Svein Berge, Oslo (Norvège), 23 novembre 2009]
  • Natasha Barrett [novembre 2003]
  • Natasha Barrett
  • Natasha Barrett
  • Natasha Barrett

Œuvres choisies

Parutions principales

Aurora / ACD 5082 / 2017
  • Rupture de stock temporaire
+3DB Records / 3DB 020 / 2014
empreintes DIGITALes / IMED 10104/105, IMED 10104_NUM / 2010
Elektron Records / EM 1012 / 2009
Aurora / ACD 5056 / 2007
Aurora / ACD 5037 / 2005
  • Rupture de stock temporaire
empreintes DIGITALes / IMED 0262, IMED 0262_NUM / 2002
[Indépendant] / NB 970101M / 1997


Artistes divers
Elektron Records / EM 1013 / 2009
empreintes DIGITALes / IMED 0898, IMED 0898_NUM / 2008

La presse en parle

Surround Sound? You Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet

Seth Colter Walls, The New York Times, 14 juillet 2017

Troy, NY — If you’ve spent any time at children’s birthday parties, you probably know what an inflated balloon sounds like when rubbed: harsh, squeaky, not particularly resonant.

“Rubbed-balloon sound” [used in Topology Chamber 2] might not seem like a sonic texture you’d place much stock in if you were creating a musical work. But how would that change if you were listening from inside the balloon? The composer Natasha Barrett decided to answer the question. She put a 3-D microphone in a balloon, pressed the record button and got down to some serious rubbing.

On Monday morning, at a “spatial audio” lecture at EMPAC — the experimental media and performing arts center that is part of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute here — Ms Barrett’s interior-balloon 3-D recording was played in an acoustical marvel of a concert hall, outfitted with one of the world’s most advanced ambisonic systems.

As Ms Barrett’s 3-D audio file was piped into the loudspeakers — there are 64, positioned both around and over listeners — the sound of her balloon manipulations was enveloping. Smeared textures whipped around listeners’ heads along a wild variety of trajectories. Variations of pressure and phrase-length registered as legitimately musical. Discrete lines of vibration converged, with a triumphant air, before splitting apart again.

But there wasn’t much time to linger over Ms Barrett’s startling spatialized recording. Presenters and participants at EMPAC’s Spatial Audio Summer Workshop had a lot of ground to cover, and only five days to get hands-on experience with tools that are rarely available under one roof.

One goal of the workshop, the first of its kind at EMPAC, was to provide the nearly two dozen participants — including engineers, acoustic consultants and composers — with a rare chance to learn about working with what specialists call high-density loudspeaker arrays, like the one needed to play Ms Barrett’s recordings. Another goal was to present a pair of public concerts as part of EMPAC’s impressive, general slate of experimental music programming.

On Monday evening, the first concert was led, as was that morning’s lecture, by Markus Noisternig, an artist in residence at EMPAC who is a researcher from the Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique (or IRCAM) in Paris. His lecture and concert highlighted both the ambisonic surround-sound speaker system and one of EMPAC’s new, and most highly prized, objects: a Wave Field Synthesis system. (These two discrete systems, which can also be blended, were temporarily installed at EMPAC’s concert hall.)

The wave system, a modular array of more than 500 speakers, uses acoustical trickery to reproduce organic sounds with unusually high fidelity. It can also “place” (and seem to move, quickly) those eerily lifelike tones at specific coordinates. Any but the most superficial kind of explanation of how this is possible tends to involve high math (like Bessel functions). But if you had to describe the effect, you might go for trippy and exciting.

Toying with spatially separated sounds is not a new fascination for composers. The conductor Alan Gilbert charted a lineage of such explorations in a 2012 New York Philharmonic concert, from a portion of Mozart’s Don Giovanni to works by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. (Boulez being, not at all coincidentally, the founder of IRCAM.) But as computing power has increased, digital systems have become more precise and more portable, if still expensive to design and install.

Systems like Wave Field Synthesis can also change approaches to pieces conceived using earlier technologies. A highlight on Monday night was Mr Noisternig’s presentation of Ricercare una melodia, by the composer Jonathan Harvey. This 1984 work was originally scored for a live trombone player and tape delay (with speakers bordering the audience on two sides). In what he called a new interpretation, Mr Noisternig looped the live playing of the trombonist Benny Sluchin using a 248-speaker section of EMPAC’s 500-speaker array, which was positioned behind Mr Sluchin.

Using IRCAM-designed software, Mr Noisternig placed eerily live-sounding reproductions of Mr Sluchin’s playing at various points along the array. In most tape-loop performances, novice listeners can tell the difference between what is being played live and what is being reproduced electronically. But this “Ricercare” performance had a suaveness of blended tone that seemed both organic and otherworldly.

So, do you need a fancy hall with spatial-audio bells and whistles to appreciate these sounds? In an interview, Mr Noisternig said that the true nature of such pieces could not be appreciated in traditional stereo mixes. There are headphones capable of simulating 3-D audio — made more accessible by the boom in virtual reality technology — but they, too, provide only approximations of the concert hall experience.

He Slowly Fell and Transformed into the Terrain, a 2016 piece by Ms Barrett, received its American premiere on Monday night, courtesy of 49 speakers in EMPAC’s ambisonic system. It seemed like the most carefully designed entry in the program’s purely electronic portion — her whirligig 3-D designs rarely seeming to be in motion merely because the technology permits it.

Ms Barrett has posted an excerpt from a stereo mix-down to her SoundCloud account. You can listen and get an idea of her skills with dramatic build and textural variation. But as she notes on the site, about the stereo reduction (from 49 channels to two), “Mastering really tricky for this.”

During daytime studio sessions, the workshop’s participants developed their own approaches to the surround-sound systems installed in EMPAC’s studio and performance spaces. Carl Testa, a bassist and composer who works closely with the composer-saxophonist Anthony Braxton, had brought along a vast collection of Mr Braxton’s recordings. On Tuesday afternoon, he was eager to test out the live-collage capabilities of Wave Field Synthesis setup.

Near the speaker array, it sounded as if different versions of Mr Braxton were zooming through space at superhuman speed, as a grinning Mr Testa dragged and dropped the “point sources” of the virtual Braxtons with the click of a mouse. After the session, Mr Testa noted that those effects had dovetailed nicely with some of Mr Braxton’s ideas, like the immersive sound environment of his Echo Echo Mirror House system, in which musicians sample vintage Braxton recordings while also navigating new scores, creating a vertiginous blur of past and present playing.

Mr Testa’s early experiments in the EMPAC studio sounded very little like the spatialized music of Ms Barrett. But it was an arresting miasma — one that raises the question of how much new insight into spatial audio may yet come from composers who are also virtuoso improvisers.

Like the ingenious musicality of Ms Barrett’s balloon experiments, insights about spatial sound may seem intuitive after the fact. But as organizers at EMPAC seem to understand, access to raw studio time and expert instruction has to come first.

Concierto electroacústico en 5.1

Josep Lluís Galiana, Levante-EMV, 10 mai 2008

El ciclo de conciertos Primavera Electroacústica a València 2008 continuó su programación el pasado jueves en la Galería del Palau. Organizada por la Asociación de Música Electroacústica de España (AMEE), la selección de composiciones que, bajo el título genérico Obres de Llarg Hàlit, se pudieron escuchar tenían como mayor aliciente su presentación en el sistema de grabación y por tanto de difusión Surround 5.1 Dolby Digital. Este sistema proporciona sonido digital mediante seis canales independientes: tres canales frontales (izquierda/centro/derecha) que posibilita claridad y nitidez y una ubicación precisa de los sonidos, mientras que los canales envolventes gemelos (trasero izquierda/trasero derecha) rodean al público sumergiéndolo en un verdadero océano de materia sonora.

Este placer se hizo tangible durante la escucha de las tres obras seleccionadas para la ocasión. Tres importantes compositores del actual panorama internacional en este género y procedentes de diversos países. La compositora belga Annette Vande Gorne (Charleroi, 1946) mostró su vertiente más expresiva y detallista con su obra Figures d’espace (2004). Espacializada por el compositor valenciano y miembro de la directiva de la AMEE Vicent Gómez, la pieza conjuga con transparente y eficaz contrapunto los sonidos de la Naturaleza con los producidos mecánicamente en una suerte de Rondeau. De auténticas dimensiones épicas se podría catalogar la obra aportada por el histórico compositor canadiense Gilles Gobeil (Québec, 1954). Ombres, espaces, silences… (2005), inspirada en la polifonía más temprana (Ars Antiqua, Ars Nova), revisita el universo sonoro de los primeros siglos de la Era Cristiana. La resultante es una música de texturas brutales como si se tratase de grandes placas tectónicas de ricas y ancestrales sonoridades a la deriva. Finalmente, la joven compositora británica Natasha Barrett (1972) presentó su Prince Prospero’s Party (2002), basada en el relato corto de Edgar Allan Poe, The Mask of the Red Death. Se trata claramente de una música programática. Narra con gran fidelidad la acción del relato, dividiendo el discurso sonoro en siete secciones y pasando de las risas al grito más aterrador de los personajes de esta insólita composición electroacústica.

Este placer se hizo tangible durante la escucha de las tres obras seleccionadas para la ocasión.

The Duality of the Dramatic and the Abstract

Julian Cowley, Musicworks, no 99, 1 décembre 2007

[Article Summary] The music of Natasha Barrett is both abstract and suggestive, sonic and visual. Her acousmatic compositions explore the theatrical potential of this frequently narrative-free music. Barrett’s initial exposure to the Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre profoundly influenced her understanding of the vocabulary and intentions of acousmatic music. Her technique is playful, exploring the potential of sounds as isolated and valuable sonic elements, and equally as extremely suggestive tools for guiding the narrative of a piece. Her process is disciplined, frequently training herself in new tools and technologies, and not adopting any method or technique until her research has exhausted all possibilities. Barrett’s experiments in combining electroacoustic music with theatre have led to a focus on the spatialization of sound as an extremely effective narrative and dramatic tool.

Her technique is playful, exploring the potential of sounds as isolated and valuable sonic elements…


  • Le plus récent disque de Natasha Barrett, Puzzle Wood, est finaliste aux prix norvégiens Spellemannprisen dans la catégorie musique contemporaine.…

    vendredi 12 janvier 2018 / Général
  • Robert Normandeau [Photo: Bernard Préfontaine, Montréal (Québec), 23 janvier 2012]

    Electric Audio Unit présente un concert électroacoustique immersif le 3 juillet 2015 au Riksscenen à Oslo (Norvège) mettant en vedette des œuvres de Robert Normandeau. Ce concert présentera aussi des œuvres et des créations des compositeurs…

    dimanche 21 juin 2015 / En concert
  • Åke Parmerud [Photo: Kari Janzén, Göteborg (Suède), 2011]

    La Lydgalleriet et BEK présentent un concert d’acousmatique en ambisonique le 26 juin 2014 à Bergen (Norvège) avec des créations de Anders Vinjar et Natasha Barrett et des œuvres de Åke Parmerud, Ludger Brummer et Fernando Lopez-Lezcano.…

    jeudi 26 juin 2014 / En concert