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Artists Danielle Palardy Roger

Percussionist, composer and improviser Danielle Palardy Roger is for the most part self-taught. Active on the Montréal “musique actuelle” scene since 1980, she co-founded the groups Justine, Wondeur Brass and Les Poules. She also founded Ensemble SuperMusique, a shape-shifting ensemble solely devoted to the performance of new music works and improvisation.

As a percussionist and improviser, her style is unique: she structures rhythm out of time, communicating a strong, complex narrative by accumulating and layering diverse gestures. She toured Canada, Europe and the United States on several occasions and appeared at several prestigious international events and festivals. In the course of her unique and resolutely independent career, she has worked and shared the stage with Alexei Borisov, DB Boyko, Christopher Butterfield, Nicolas Caloia, Paul Cram, Chantal Dumas, Christine Duncan, Lori Freedman, Fred Frith, Joëlle Léandre, Torsten Mueller, Zeena Parkins, Tenko, the VivaVoce choir, and the Quasar saxophone quartet, among others and in addition to her close collaborators from the Ambiances Magnétiques crowd — Derome, Hétu, Labrosse, Tanguay and Tétreault.

Roger’s research concerns the integration of improvisation to contemporary music. In that regard, she has worked with composer Marie Pelletier and composed music for the Ensemble Contemporain de Montréal and for Ensemble SuperMusique — the latter a shape shifting ensemble entirely dedicated to improvised music and “musique actuelle.” She wrote a Harbour Symphony in 2001 (La grande entente), commissioned by the Musée Pointe-à-Callière in Montréal. Danielle Palardy Roger has made several albums for the Ambiances Magnétiques label, including Tricotage (2000) with French bassist Joëlle Léandre, Bruiducœur, prière des infidèles, an oratorio performed live in Montréal, in June of 2004, Phénix (2008) with the trio Les Poules, and Pas de deux (2008) with British guitarist Fred Frith.

Roger is a versatile artist whose projects have consistently brought her back to text, song and declamation. She has penned a large number of songs for Wondeur Brass and Justine, but also composed a musical tale (L’oreille enflée, 1990), a musical theatre (Candide sur une toupie, 1994) and, most importantly, the solo performance Le voyage en Aphasie Mineure (1998) and the oratorio Bruiducœur, prières des infidèles (2004), two works where an exploding language represents the intense realm of communication, the core of the artist’s concerns.

In juxtaposition to her music career, Danielle Palardy Roger is also general manager and artistic director of Productions SuperMusique (PSM) and is a member of the Ambiances Magnétiques label; in addition to being involved in the field of concert music she is president of the Groupe Le Vivier, which is dedicated to the founding of a place of creation, production and presentation of new music in Montréal.


Danielle Palardy Roger

Laval (Québec), 1949

Residence: Montréal (Québec)

  • Composer
  • Performer (drum set, electronic percussion, voice)

Associated Groups

Danielle Palardy Roger, photo: Céline Côté
Danielle Palardy Roger, photo: Céline Côté
  • Ensemble SuperMusique during the public workshop, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), May 7, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique, during the public workshop, plays the piece Les états conducted by Joane Hétu, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), May 7, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique, during the public workshop, plays the piece Collision conducted by Danielle Palardy Roger, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), May 7, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique during the public workshop, under the direction of Jean Derome, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), May 7, 2017
  • All the young musicians from the Ensemble SuperMusique take part in the training directed by Danielle Palardy Roger & Joane Hétu, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), May 6, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique plays the piece En arrivant par le nuage de Oort, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), April 6, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique, under the direction of Lisa Cay Miller, plays the piece Water Carrier, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), April 6, 2017
  • Ensemble SuperMusique plays the piece Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant, photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), April 6, 2017

Main Releases

In the Press

Concert Review

Isnor B Gordon, Left Hip Magazine, December 12, 2008

Fred Frith played in Montréal recently along with some very talented local free improv players. I was fortunate enough to catch the show…

Legendary avant-garde guitarist Fred Frith dropped by Montréal’s Cabaret Juste Pour Rire the other night for a duo show with drummer Danielle Palardy Roger, and an opening set by two incredible percussionists - Michel F Côté and Isaiah Ceccarelli.

Côté and Ceccarelli started things off with nothing but drums. Côté was behind a standard kit extended with lots of toys and two mics rigged up two a pair of Pignose amps. Ceccarelli just had a bass drum lying on a chair along with, again, lots of toys. The pieces were all very brief which was really nice, and despite the fact that drums alone might seem limited, each piece was very different from those that came before – sound loud and frenetic, others quiet, one actually managed to elicit quite a bit of laughter from the audience, which I’m hoping was a good thing. Côté used the mics as drum sticks to great effect - creating all kinds of unusual sounds of tension and release, friction, surprisingly dynamic feedback that almost made one think of the expressiveness of the Theremin, and there were moments of all out, distorted, banging-on-a-drum fun. The feedbacking drums were paired up really well with Ceccarelli’s bowed playing. A great set.

Fred Frith and Danielle Palardy Roger were up second and once they began playing, they did not stop until their set was finished — a really long and well laid-out musical journey with lots of highlights and unexpected twists and turns. Fred pulled out every trick in the prepared guitar book - from the old twanging drum stick between the strings to an array of effects and looping pedals and beyond. But with his mastery of music and his instrument it never felt like he was depending on the gimmicks, more using them to great effect to build up a complex, multilayered soundscape and every-evolving composition. He was well matched up with Danielle Palardy Roger, who also had all of the extended techniques and managed to make great music with them. They both seemed to be following their own paths the whole way not interacting too much like some free improv players do, creating a sort of back and forth conversation type of sound, but their individual paths meshed perfectly well together, so maybe they were both just following the music more than their own instrumental egos. Adding an extra oomph to the coolness of the show was when first Fred Frith let loose a barrage of percussive and wailing tribal vocals, followed a little later on by vocal sounds along similar lines from Danielle Palardy Roger. Took it to another level beyond the often staid confines of stylized free improv into something more about music in a broader and more sophisticated sense.

An awesome concert, and I think it was part of a recording project so it may see the light of day on CD in the not too distant future…

An awesome concert…

Joëlle Léandre waving her bow around can be a beautiful thing

Kate Molleson, The Gazette, March 26, 2008

French improv bassist Joëlle Léandre has a mighty impressive biography — she’s worked with Pierre Boulez, John Cage, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, John Zorn — and judging by her appearance at La Sala Rossa last night, she’s a fierce enough lady to live up to it.

She arrived late, hair wild and dress scruffy black, peered callously into the audience and picked up her instrument. Waiting for her on stage were local musique-actuelle fixtures Jean Derome and Danielle Palardy Roger, both impressive and fearless improvisers. Together the three produced an hour of music that, though not for the faint-hearted, passed through moments of surprising beauty.

The process would be familiar to most improvisers: One musician introduces an idea — a short melody or rhythm or sound or gesture, or even, in Léandre’s case, fragments of spoken words — then the others play with and around it. The idea develops and eventually morphs into other ideas. Hopefully, somewhere in the process, the group will have arrived at some interesting sounds.

What distinguished last night’s group was how varied and refined the sounds were. Derome played alto and baritone sax, flute and alto flute, and came equipped with an arsenal of toys: ocarinas, slide whistles, things that scrape and scratch and pop and hoot. His saxophone sound is aggressive, but works fabulously in this context, and I love the way he hints at standard jazz gestures amidst the abstract swells and screeches.

Léandre, meanwhile, commands her bass forcibly, producing uncanny wails and sniffles and, at one point, a smacking walking bass line. She uses her bow a lot, more than most jazz bass players dare, and to great effect. When things got really heated, she’d wave the bow around in the air to make swooshing noises. It’s a visual spectacle (one reason I have trouble listening to this kind of music on record) and Léandre’s fierce personality became integral to the performance.

People have strong feelings about this kind of improvised music (my brother, for example, calls it ‘public wanking’). Some say it’s intimidating because it’s so experimental, but I reckon that it’s because it is just so experimental that anybody can listen to it. You don’t need any background knowledge; the whole point is to experience the sounds as they come. In that sense, it’s very accessible.

What distinguished last night’s group was how varied and refined the sounds were.


Marvin, Free Albums Galore, February 6, 2008

Le GGRIL is that most cumbersome of all musical monsters, the avant-garde big band. The nature of the big jazz band is to allow improvisation over tightly structured arrangements. The big band is practically the opposite of avant-garde jazz which often respect freedom of sound over tonality, structure, or even rhythm.

Le GGRIL is centered in Québec, Canada and walks a tightrope between the improvised and the structured. The band’s arsenal of imaginative players borrow as much from post-classical as from free jazz. Their personnel is changeable but the unusual assortment of saxes, clarinet, accordions, violins, guitar and percussion seems to be the norm. The free self titled album has four tracks. Tracks 1, 2, 4 are directed by alto saxophonist Jean Derome with Fire + Bebelle most closely related to jazz. Tracks 2 and 4 are quieter and makes good use of long tones and well placed silence. Derome’s direction and playing is center toward exploring sounds and environment more so than totally free improvisation.

The same can be said for track 3 which is an extended 11 minute work featuring the improvisatory trio of Les Poules. Alto saxist Joane Hétu, percussionist Danielle Palardy Roger, and samplist Diane Labrosse tends to prefer long drones with free improvisation as accent. They mix well with the larger ensemble creating a well thought out atmospheric work.

The album is available from the excellent Insubordinations netlabel in 320kbps MP3.

They mix well with the larger ensemble creating a well thought out atmospheric work.

More Texts

Voir, Le Devoir

Articles Written

La musique actuelle en quelques points…

Danielle Palardy Roger, FAMEQ à la une, no. 20:1, October 1, 2005

La musique actuelle a surtout été analysée et décrite de l’intérieur par ceux qui la font et la diffusent, malheureusement il y a peu de musicologues qui se sont penchés sur ce qui fait sa spécificité parmi les musiques d’aujourd’hui — terme le plus souvent utilisé pour parler des trois grands courants de musiques de création: la musique contemporaine, la musique électroacoustique et la musique actuelle.

Le terme de musique actuelle, qui existe depuis les années 50-60, était à l’époque rattaché à la musique contemporaine et à ses avant-gardistes tels les John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros, Harry Partch; mais depuis cette époque, la signification du terme s’est transformée. Aujourd’hui quand on parle du courant de la musique actuelle on ne parle plus de musique contemporaine, car le courant a dévié, il s’est élargi et a, entre autres, développé un nouveau langage articulé en grande partie à partir de musiques populaires. C’est là une des grandes différences entre la musique contemporaine et la musique actuelle, en effet, la musique contemporaine a ses plus profondes racines dans la musique classique, tandis que la musique actuelle a développé beaucoup des siennes dans le jazz, le rock et la musique traditionnelle. La musique actuelle s’est détournée de conventions par trop académiques ou conservatrices; et encore aujourd’hui elle présente un aspect «populaire» en entretenant des liens serrés avec la culture underground et en proposant des concerts dans des bars et des lieux enfumés…

Parallèlement à cette dichotomie dans les musiques «d’avant-garde», deux événements fondamentaux ont également participé à définir la musique actuelle: l’avènement de la technologie et celui de l’électronique lui ont ouvert la porte aux bricolages et aux collages sonores, à l’échantillonnage et au bruitisme.

La mixité de ces matériaux sonores ainsi que la cohabitation de la structure et de l’improvisation sont caractéristiques de la musique actuelle. Conséquemment celle-ci comprend des œuvres très variées; en effet elle inclut des musiques savamment écrites et calculées jusqu’à des musiques totalement improvisées; elle peut aussi contenir des musiques électroniques minimalistes jusqu’à des musiques rock extrêmes.

L’utilisation de nouvelles lutheries est aussi un aspect particulier à la musique actuelle — à l’instar de la musique contemporaine, les œuvres de musique actuelle sont interprétées par des instrumentistes, en cela elle diffère totalement de la musique électroacoustique où les œuvres préenregistrées sont diffusées en concert via des haut-parleurs. Dans la musique actuelle, la cohabitation des instruments acoustiques et électroniques est fréquente et la lutherie est fort diversifiée; les instruments, qu’ils soient acoustiques ou électroniques, peuvent être utilisés dans leur version la plus originelle ou avoir été complètement réinventés.

Une autre des importantes particularités de la musique actuelle est le fait que ses compositeurs sont aussi des instrumentistes qui jouent en concert. La musique actuelle s’est fait connaître au Québec et au Canada via des Frank Zappa, guitariste; John Zorn, saxophoniste; Fred Frith, guitariste; John Oswald, saxophoniste; Jean Derome, saxophoniste; Michel F Côté, percussionniste; Joane Hétu, saxophoniste; Diane Labrosse, pianiste: tous des compositeurs qui jouent leurs propres musiques.

Des détracteurs ont maintes fois dit que la musique actuelle n’était qu’une passade et qu’elle disparaîtrait rapidement mais depuis quelques années une relève de jeunes compositeurs se manifeste, puissante et imaginative: des Bernard Falaise, Alexandre St-Onge, Sam Shalabi, i8u et Magali Babin et des plus jeunes encore comme Antoine Berthiaume, Guido del Fabbro et Myléna Bergeron.

Depuis vingt-cinq ans, au Québec, trois intervenants majeurs ont permis la diffusion de la musique actuelle et la reconnaissance de ce courant: le Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville, Le Navire Night à Radio-Canada (une émission qui n’existe plus) et l’organisme Productions SuperMusique; on peut visiter les sites Web de ces diffuseurs pour en connaître davantage sur la musique actuelle. Je recommande aussi la lecture de Plunderphonics, Pataphysics & Pop Mechanics, an introduction to musique actuelle du journaliste Andrew Jones aux éditions S-A-F.

Pour terminer je voudrais rajouter que la musique actuelle est un courant présent dans tous les pays industrialisés, mais le terme «musique actuelle» est utilisé surtout au Québec et n’a pas son équivalent en anglais ou dans d’autres langues. En France, il n’y a pas non plus de terme spécifique, on utilise souvent nouvelles musiques ou musiques de création.

La musique actuelle s’est détournée de conventions par trop académiques ou conservatrices; et encore aujourd’hui elle présente un aspect «populaire» en entretenant des liens serrés avec la culture underground


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