Smoke and Mirrors

John Young

Smoke and Mirrors

  • John Young
  • Année de composition: 2008
  • Durée: 20:30
  • Instrumentation: support 15.1 canaux
  • Commande: Ina-GRM
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This work attempts to embody my feelings about the way the natural sound world has a profound role in electroacoustic music. In one sense the forms, patterns and associations of environmental phenomena are a starting point for the way we search for meaning in even the seemingly most abstract sounds. But in another sense intensive periods of listening to and shaping electroacoustic sound often triggers for me a sensation that I hear the sounds I am working with reflected in some kind of phantom form inside the acoustic reality of daily life around me — blurring the distinction between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ experience and influencing the way it is played out as part of the creative process. I see the practice of play with sounds, transforming and mixing them in the studio, as a journey toward understanding their musical possibilities and their deeper relationships. That there are ultimately many possible ways to form and develop these relationships explains the quasi-cyclic nature of Smoke and Mirrors with many of the core sound shapes and signs returning in altered contexts.

Smoke and Mirrors was realized at the studios of the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre, De Montfort University (Leicester, UK). It was created in 16 channels, using ambisonic B-format and expanded stereo field recordings as sound sources. The work was designed for its premiere performance in Radio France’s Salle Olivier Messiaen to be projected from an inner ‘core’ of 5.1 format loudspeakers, with an outer circle of 8 loudspeakers and a further 2 channels of high frequency ‘tweeters’ placed centrally in the space. Smoke and Mirrors was commissioned by Ina-GRM.


  • 12 avril 2008, Multiphonies 2007-08: Akousma, Salle Olivier Messiaen — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)