Various artists
Bernier, Copeland, Dhomont, Dufort…

trans_canada

IMED 09100
2009

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Radio // trans_canada
trans_canada
Writing Machine (2005), 15m28s [excerpt]
Track 1 from trans_canada
DVD-Audio: empreintes DIGITALes (2009) IMED 09100
  • piste@imed_09100-1
    • 1
      Writing Machine (2005), 15m29s
      8-track tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 10, 2005, Nicolas Bernier, diffusion • trans_canada: Générations • Generationen • Generations, ZKM_Kubus (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      Writing Machine is inspired by the American writer William S Burroughs and by some similarities between his writing method and electroacoustic composition. The starting point was his “cut-up” technique, which consists of taking several text sources, cutting some parts of text, and reorganizing them into new structures and getting a new text. So I applied Burroughs’ technique to his own words focusing on the notion of language deconstruction. I have used the words for their material, morphological and musical properties rather than only for their semantic qualities.

      The following quotation from Robin Lydenberg’s text Sound Identity Fading Out William Burroughs’ Tape Experiments summarizes my intention:

      […] Burroughs’ tape cut-ups often produce an assaultive pulsation […] leaving the listener unable to construct context, linear sequence, or even syntax from what he hears and thus liberating him or her from these imposed patterns of thought. As he (Burroughs) explains in The Ticket That Exploded, “The content of the tape doesn’t seem to effect the result”; the power resides instead in the rhythm, in patterns of alternation at specific intervals.

      Aside from spoken words, Writing Machine is built around the sounds of writing machines. Sounds that have been electrified, metalized, pulsed and distorted in order to create the sound universe evoked by my reading of Burroughs’ books.

      [xi-11]

      Writing Machine was realized from December 2004 to February 2005 in the studios of the Université de Montréal and of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM, Germany). The work premiered on February 10, 2005 during the trans_canada festival in the ZKM_Kubus in Karlsruhe (Germany). The work was commissioned by the ZKM and made possible with the support of Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. Thanks to Ludger Brümmer, Sabine Breitsameter, the entire staff at ZKM, Université de Montréal, and André Garant (recorded voice).

      piste@imed_09100-1.1 oeuvre@10345 ISRC CAD500910135
    • 2
      Let Me Out (2006), 34m59s
      stereo tape
      • Commission: Kunstradio — Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF)
      • Premiere: August 11, 2006, Sound Travels 2006: Light and Sound, St Andrew-by-the-Lake Church (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

      Going about everyday business is sometimes harder than we like to acknowledge. This is a piece for the subconscious. For the delusions that drift through our thoughts as we move from one place to the next… from a hallway to a subway platform, to the subway turnstiles to the street outside. This is a piece for all those crazy urges we get when we feel smothered by a small space or overwhelmed by a large space. Sometimes, we want to scream “Let me out… Now!!” This piece should not give anyone nightmares of these rather ordinary spaces and places that invite delusion. It is a celebration of the artist, the madman, or the dreamer, within us all.

      [vi-09]

      Let Me Out was realized in 2006 at the composer’s studio and premiered on August 11, 2006 at St Andrew-by-the-Lake Church during the Sound Travels Festival of Sound Art on Toronto Island (Ontario). The piece was commissioned by the Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF) for its programme Kunstradio. The spatialization research for the concert premiere was supported by the Media Arts Section of the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). Thanks to Charlie Fox for the recording of the empty corridors of the University of Regina (Saskatchewan) during The Art of Immersive Soundscape residency in July 2004 and to Barry Prophet for recording with me similar spaces at the University of Toronto (Ontario) in February 2006, and to Elisabeth Zimmerman from the ORF. Let Me Out is the companion work to Ich will kein Inmich mehr sein, which was commissioned by the ZKM for the trans_canada festival. Special thanks to Sebastian Schäfer for his vocal recordings made for Ich will kein Inmich mehr sein and used as source material for Let Me Out, and to author Birger Sellin for his book Ich will kein Inmich mehr sein and his insights into the autistic mind which is the backbone to both of these works.

      piste@imed_09100-1.2 oeuvre@23571 ISRC CAD500910136
    • 3
      Brief an den Vater (2005-06), 17m03s
      stereo tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 12, 2005, Francis Dhomont, diffusion • trans_canada: Topographies • Topographien • Topographies, ZKM_Kubus (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      Brief an den Vater is the first preliminary work for Le cri du Choucas, a long work in progress about Franz Kafka’s world, works, and character.

      Of course, this work is about the famous letter Franz Kafka wrote to his father in November of 1919, a letter he never mailed. From his long indictment, I have only used a few sentences, selected because they sum up what Kafka held against his father in explicit terms, and mostly because they translate the deep worries of the writer, the mold that gave him his shape, and, as a result, the substratum of his literary topics.

      For over twelve years now, I have been working on a long work entitled Le cri du Choucas, about this author and his writings. So what has this “letter” turned into? I am surprised at the hybrid thing before me, both music and Hörspiel, that contains sounds, words, ideas, pictures, and that seems to eschew any regular classification. I might as well file it alongside my ’essays.’ However, this piece is most of all a preliminary study for Le cri du Choucas.

      One word about the sound materials: other than the voice of actor Martin Engler (narration in the foreground), the sound materials were mostly obtained from the voice of the German composer Hans Tutschku, either as vocalizations or transformed into pure sonics. Kafka’s gritty and ruthless lament called for rough, tentative, and unseductive sound materials. So I decided to take a chance.

      [English translation: François Couture, vi-09]

      Brief an den Vater was realized in 2005 in the composer’s studio in Avignon (France) and premiered on 12 February 2005 during the trans_canada festival in the ZKM_Kubus of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (Germany). This work was commissioned by ZKM. Thanks to Martin Engler (recorded narration), Hans Tutschku, Ludger Brümmer, and Götz Naleppa.

      This 5.1 version was realized in 2006 at ZKM; thanks to Joachim Goßmann.

      piste@imed_09100-1.3 oeuvre@10030 ISRC CAD500910137
    • 4
      Hi_Res (2005), 13m37s
      5.1-track tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 11, 2005, Louis Dufort, diffusion • trans_canada: Paysages • Landschaften • Landscape, ZKM_Medientheater (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      Hi_Res investigates a technology fetish, the kind often featured in B-series science-fiction movies. At the basis of Hi_Res is a text — a short excerpt from the user manual for the Motor Mix MIDI controller — read by Canadian composer Darren Copeland. In a sense, this assumed awkwardness highlights the absurd importance technology has taken in art. So I admit it: there is a kitsch side to this piece, and it is peppered with irony.

      [English translation: François Couture, viii-07]

      Hi_Res was realized at the studios of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Germany. A first version was premiered on February 11, 2005 during the trans_canada festival at the ZKM’s ZKM_Medientheater. The final version was premiered on May 14, 2005, under the provisional title Hi_Res.1, during the Elektra Festival at Usine C in Montréal. The piece was commissioned by the ZKM. My thanks to Ludger Brümmer, the team of the ZKM’s Institut für Musik & Akustik, and Darren Copeland.

      piste@imed_09100-1.4 oeuvre@18391 ISRC CAD500811110
    • 5
      stereo tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 12, 2005, Gilles Gobeil, diffusion • trans_canada: Topographies • Topographien • Topographies, ZKM_Kubus (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      With Ombres, espaces, silences… (Shadows, Spaces, Rests…), I wished to revisit early polyphonic music (Ars Antiqua, Ars Nova). I wanted to bring together this universe of intervals and chords, and the much wider universe of noises, the latter providing the setting in which to present — or evoke — modified fragments from the beginnings of Western music.

      The universe of noises rests upon one of the History of Christianity’s fascinating phenomenon: the hermits, or “Desert Fathers” from the first centuries of the Christian era. These men had knowingly chosen to seek isolation, to cut their ties with society, for they believed the answer to the issue of human destiny could be found only outside society.

      I have attempted to describe, through a number of tableaux, the surprising life of these men, their religious fervour (the same fervour that gave birth to the first polyphonic music), by evoking the physical locations, the aridity and threat of the desert, but mostly by evoking their fabulous spiritual imagination.

      [English translation: François Couture, xi-07]

      Ombres, espaces, silences… was realized in January and February of 2005 at the studios of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Germany. It was premiered on February 12, 2005 during the trans_canada festival at the ZKM’s ZKM_Kubus. It was commissioned by the ZKM. Thanks to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the ZKM for their support. Ombres, espaces, silences… was awarded an Honorary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria, 2005) and was among the selection for the 32nd Bourges International Electroacoustic Music and Sound Art Competition (France) in 2005.

      piste@imed_09100-1.5 oeuvre@10227
    • 6
      Palimpseste (2005, 11), 14m53s
      16-track tape
      Cycle: Onomatopées
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 12, 2005, Robert Normandeau, diffusion • trans_canada: Topographies • Topographien • Topographies, ZKM_Kubus (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      To Anick

      Palimpseste is the fourth and final piece of a cycle called Onomatopoeias begun in 1991 with Éclats de voix followed by Spleen (1993) and Le renard et la rose (1995). The pieces of the cycle were dedicated to the childhood, adolescence and adulthood where the fourth one is an homage to old age. As with the first three pieces, this one is divided into five sections, each of them evoking a feeling associated to a musical parameter: Fury and Rhythm; Bitterness and Timbre; Anger and Dynamics; Tiredness and Space; Wisdom and Texture. The title refers to a palimpsest, which is a manuscript on which the first text (even many texts) was erased in order to write a new one over it (parchments being rare and precious). Here, the first text was the timeline structure of the previous works. It is still there but in the background. It has been written over with another layer made out of a series of new categories of sounds, more noisy, absent in the previous works of the cycle.

      Palimpseste is made exclusively with vocal sounds and more specifically with onomatopoeias that are extremely rich because they represent those instances when the sounds of human language correspond directly to the designated object or to the expression of a sentiment. The voices were recorded in Germany — Christian Gressier, Eberhard Geyer, and Gabriela Lang — and in Québec — Andrée Lachapelle, and Christiane Pasquier.

      [xii-11]

      Palimpseste was realized in 2005 in the studios of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM) in Germany and in the composer’s studio and premiered on February 12, 2005 during the trans_canada festival under the title ZedKejeM. It was revised during the summer 2005 and premiered on October 21, 2005 during the event Theater des Hörens at the ZKM’s ZKM_Kubus. It was finally revised in 2011. Palimpseste was commissioned by the ZKM with the support of Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) and Canada Council for the Arts (CCA). Thanks to Sabine Breitsameter and Ludger Brümmer. The work was finalist in the Musica Nova 2005 International Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Prague, Czech Republic), and was selected by the Canadian Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) to represent Canada at the 2007 World Music Days in Hong Kong.

      piste@imed_09100-1.6 oeuvre@10347
    • 7
      The Shaman Ascending (2004-05), 15m45s
      8- / 16-track tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 12, 2005, Barry Truax, diffusion • trans_canada: Sonic Travel, ZKM_Medientheater (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      The Shaman Ascending evokes the imagery of a traditional shaman figure chanting in the quest for spiritual ecstasy. However, in this case, the listener is placed inside of a circle of loudspeakers with the vocal utterances swirling around at high rates of speed and timbral development. The work proceeds in increasing stages of complexity as the shaman ascends towards a higher spiritual state.

      The work and its title are inspired by a pair of Canadian Inuit sculptures by John Terriak with collectively the same name, as well as Inuit throat singing. All of the vocal material heard in the piece is derived from a recording of the Vancouver bass singer Derrick Christian.

      The Shaman Ascending was realized in 2004-05 at the composer’s studio and mixed in the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) and premiered on February 12, 2005 during the festival trans_canada at the ZKM_Medientheater in Karlsruhe (Germany). The piece was commissioned by the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM). The 8-track version of this work was created with Richmond Sound Design’s AudioBox computer-controlled diffusion system. The stereophonic version of The Shaman Ascending was first released by Cambridge Street Records in 2007 on the CD Spirit Journies (CSR 0701).

      piste@imed_09100-1.7 oeuvre@10301 ISRC CAD500910143
    • 8
      Für Dich — For You (2005), 20m56s
      8-track tape
      • Commission: ZKM
      • Premiere: February 11, 2005, Hildegard Westerkamp, diffusion • trans_canada: Paysages • Landschaften • Landscape, ZKM_Medientheater (Karlsruhe, Germany)

      Für Dich — For You is based on the poem Liebes-Lied by Rainer Maria Rilke and its newest translation into English, Love Song, by Canadian poet and writer Norbert Ruebsaat.

      The compositional process of Für Dich — For You was an intense encounter with Rilke’s words, not unlike an encounter with the experience of love itself and all its unsettling, complex emotional states. Love, like birth or death, tears us out of the routine of daily life, wakes us up, alerts us to what is, creates moments of truth, often stirs us to make changes, to take new risks. The poem speaks of one person’s love to another, but also and perhaps more importantly about love as an inner state towards life and the world as a whole. In the face of ecological disasters and global economic imbalances, as well as widespread practices of terror, war, and hate, it suddenly seemed to be a matter of survival to learn more about love and about how to act from the heart. Composing this piece was part of this process of learning.

      On another level the composition explores a sense of place and belonging, of home and love. To underscore this context, the sound sources for the piece consist of specific sounds from two places that have created a sense of belonging in me: North Germany where I was born and grew up and Vancouver and the westcoast of Canada where I have lived for over thirty years as an immigrant. These sounds form the sonic / musical language of the piece together with the recorded voices (male and female) of people close to me, speaking the poem, both in German and English.

      To open oneself to one’s original language and culture again, after having lived as an immigrant in the country of one’s choice for a long time, is like opening oneself to an almost forgotten deep love and connection to that past place. At the same time, one has lived and functioned in the country of one’s choice for many years, one has established one’s very own home, one’s family. One feels at home here. It is the right place to be. It also is a place of belonging and love. Thus, the piece is an exploration of the heart, an exploration of where the heart is located in connection to culture, language and people. In a globalized world where millions of us are on the move, whether as refugees, immigrants or just as travelers, this has emerged as a wide-spread and relevant theme, as we are all in some way searching for home and connectedness.

      Hildegard Westerkamp [vi-09]

      Für Dich — For You was realized in 2005 at the studios of the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe (ZKM, Germany), the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) and the composer’s studio in Vancouver (Canada) and premiered on February 11, 2005 during the festival trans_canada at the ZKM_Medientheater in Karlsruhe (Germany). The piece was commissioned by the ZKM. Thanks to all who spent valuable hours with me exploring and reading the poem; recorded readers are: Wendelin Bartley, Susan Benson, Anne Bourne, Louie Ettling, Peter Grant, Andra McCartney, Norbert Ruebsaat, Sonja Ruebsaat, Susanna Ruebsaat, R Murray Schafer, Agnes Westerkamp, and Hildegard Westerkamp.

      piste@imed_09100-1.8 oeuvre@10111 ISRC CAD500910144