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Works … et ainsi de suite… Jonty Harrison

… et ainsi de suite…

  • Jonty Harrison
  • Year of composition: 1992
  • Duration: 19:17
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium

I had wanted for some time to compose a ‘French Suite,’ rather in the manner of the musique concrète tradition. Sounds from some rough-textured wine glasses, which had been transformed in the Studio numérique (digital studio) of the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM, Paris, France) using predominantly time-domain manipulation (etir), brassage (brage and bragge) and spatialization programs, provided a promising starting point. These individual sounds were onwardly transformed using a variety of digital signal processors in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of The University of Birmingham (UK), combined with a number of other sound sources, further transformed, recombined… and so on…

I ventured into this pool of material from time to time in order to compose short, essentially self-contained movements. The reassembling of new, specific musical utterances from the same source material led to the idea that, by analogy, complete movements (which would inevitably contain a plethora of cross-references) could be assembled in various ways to create pieces of different lengths and pacings for different occasions, spaces… and so on…

Over a dozen movements have been composed to date. Their different functions are characterized, to continue the link with the musique concrète suite, by French titles: à propos and résumé are, respectively, expository and recapitulatory statements of the basic array of sound-types found in the work, and the longest and most elaborate movements are designated commentaire; the first version of the work (Version Bourges 1990) contained only these movement categories. From 1991, with access to the digital audio editing environment Sound Tools, I was able to achieve the seamless continuity of material needed for the family of gentler, more reflective and static movements which offset them. These interspersed movements are grouped under the general heading of (parenthèse), though some carry additional, descriptive titles such as réflexion, résonance and souffle d’insectes.

The CD version — itself a revision of the Birmingham Version 1992 — has eleven movements, whose durations range from 40 seconds to nearly 4 minutes. A characteristic of this version is the overlapping of movements (movements 6 to 9 form a continuous whole, as do the final two movements), emphasizing the more dramatic potential of the material. Overall, however, the work is not a vehicle for a dynamic or dramatic musical argument; I am more concerned to create a network of connections within a sound-world more conducive to dalliance than discourse.


The Birmingham Version 1992 of … et ainsi de suite… was first performed on February 27, 1992 in a ‘live’ radiobroadcast of a BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre) concert at the BBC Pebble Mill Studios (Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK) as part of the Sounds Like Birmingham — UK City of Music 1992 festival. … et ainsi de suite… was awarded a Distinction at the Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria, 1993) and First Prize in the Musica Nova 1994 International Competition of Electroacoustic Music (Prague, Czech Republic).


Premiere

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

Albums

Movements