Sonne l’image

Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM) / Joane Hétu, Manon De Pauw, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Viviane Houle, Pierre Hébert

… this is an inspiring display of collective improvisation. The WholeNote, Canada

Which is not to say that Sonne l’image’s (Ambiances Magnétiques) electroacoustic improvisations are difficult to understand or inaccessible. Occasionally they even gather into proper songs, only to break right back out into free freakout. Groove, Germany

SuperMusique and DAME are pleased to present Ensemble SuperMusiqueSonne l’image, an album of three works recorded live in front of an audience in November 2019 (at the dawn of the pandemic).

As the name suggests, the pieces on Sonne l’image (“Sounding the Image”) were composed in tandem with the creation of images — moving images that then served as animated scores. Now these works, created with the help of media such as video, animated film and photo montage, are presented here on CD, completely autonomous. They are music that we can but listen to. They have their own life, complete and independent. In them we can make out the musical gestures of the famous Ensemble SuperMusique musicians. They are sonic and magnificent.

However, traces do remain in these pieces of the visual artists who collaborated so closely with their composers; the videographer Pierre Hébert and the multidisciplinary artist Manon de Pauw actually created sounds with the musicians Viviane Houle and Joane Hétu; to say nothing of the fusion of photo montage and music in the piece by Cléo Palacio-Quintin. These works secretly retain all the contours of their arabesques. They are almost visible.

Animated scores, like graphic scores, are at the heart of our practice. They were written or drawn on paper and today they are projected on the screen or iPad. To our eyes and ears they are the scores that are most suited to the sounds of today’s music. As creative musicians we seek to better compose them, as ensemble directors we seek to better analyse and conduct them. With the instrumentalists of the Ensemble SuperMusique, we seek to perfect the performance of them. And we work tirelessly to introduce them to wider audiences who we hope will enjoy them. — Danielle Palardy Roger, Montréal, 2021


CD (AM 266)

  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
  • AM 266
  • 2021
  • UCC 771028126620
  • Total duration: 37:22
  • Sympathique case
  • 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
  • 40 g

On the web

Download (AM 266_NUM)

  • Interview: Manon De Pauw; Joane Hétu; Cléo Palacio-Quintin; video: Maxime Corbeil-Perron; In French; Subtitled in French; December 2021
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In the press


Yoshi Maclear Wall, The WholeNote, no. 27:6, April 20, 2022

Sometimes, the smallest tidbit of context can make a world of difference when it comes to interpreting art. One illustrative example that comes to mind is the powerful 1997 Derek Bailey and Min Tanaka Music and Dance album, where the listener is primarily attuned to Bailey’s guitar playing but even just a working knowledge of Tanaka’s presence helps establish a real-world setting in the mind of the listener.

Similarly, Ensemble SuperMusique’s 2019 Montréal Sonne l’image performance is also one of a multidisciplinary nature, and there is something about that framing that feels critical. Even if one doesn’t get their hands on a CD where the visual scores themselves are provided, the music takes on a new shape when the imagination can vaguely infer the imagery that is being responded to. This phenomenon speaks to a desire the spectator has to feel connected to the process itself, where the stage almost seems to disappear and the hierarchy of a concert hall vanishes. But what happens when one chooses to listen ignorantly, fixating on what we’ve been given rather than extrapolating?

The music itself has a definite determinate sway to it in terms of duration and select composed passages, but this is an inspiring display of collective improvisation. Throughout three movements, all individual elements are interwoven but there is never overt disruption. Everyone breathes together, and nobody takes a solo. Communal contributions take precedence over individual objectives. Patience and timing ensures fluidity.

… this is an inspiring display of collective improvisation.


Frank P Eckert, Groove, March 16, 2022

Wo das Montréaler Ensemble SuperMusique agiert, bleibt Pop eher außen vor. Was nicht heißen muss, dass die elektroakustischen Improvisationen von Sonne l’image (Ambiances Magnétiques) schwer verständlich oder unzugänglich wären. Mitunter sammeln sie sich sich sogar zu richtigen Songs, um dann direkt wieder in freien Freakout auszubrechen.

Which is not to say that Sonne l’image’s (Ambiances Magnétiques) electroacoustic improvisations are difficult to understand or inaccessible. Occasionally they even gather into proper songs, only to break right back out into free freakout.


Robert Steinberger, Vital, no. 1326, March 8, 2022

Ensemble SuperMusique is a small Canadian orchestra focussing on contemporary and mainly improvised music. Joane Hétu is a member of the ensemble and has composed the first piece that is presented here, Cléo Palacio-Quintin and Viviane Houle being the other two composers. All three pieces were created as an interplay between musical score and moving images. Essentially, if I understood correctly, the score itself was the moving pictures. As Danielle Palardy Roger rightly remarks in the liner notes, the visual part is lost in the audio recording. Supposedly it lives on in the music, but this would not be discernible to the listener. The title of the release, Sonne l’image = ’Sound the image’ (even better in English, due to the ambiguity it introduces), maps out the concept. All compositions were recorded in one set in Nov 2019.

La vie de l’esprit (Hétu) kicks off with a vocal part then moves into a thoughtful piece of interaction between piano and strings or wind instruments and percussion. The music erupts into hectic parts that involve more instruments from time to time (why is not known to us). With nearly 15 minutes in length, the piece builds little tension as it moves between the quiet and intense parts with little musical motivation. Fewer instruments and more tension might have been beneficial to the audio side of this event, though I did like the interplay with the electronic sounds and voices in the last third. Aléas: Révélations des pierres muettes (=revelations of mute stones) (Palacio-Quintin) creates the tension by starting and ending drone-like with a deep, vibrating tone that is then overlayed with sparsely set notes, then whispered voices are added. Instruments drop more notes here and there as the level builds and the whispers become audible voices. And then everything subsides again into the drone. I can, actually, conjure up imagery for this one. First Words (Houle) also uses voices (is this maybe the connecting element?) in a more ’instrumental’ way than the other two compositions. Again, there is more consistency in the piece. It moves from vocal beginnings to wind, wind instrument, percussion, sinewave generator, strings and others playing phrases, not just single notes, with the different instruments participating in creating a continuous backdrop from time to time (well balanced, not too often) interrupted by outbursts. The nicest one is the drum solo in the second half. It ends with a beautifully balanced succession of solo vocal, flutes, a racket of everyone, ebbing off into to flute melody.

It ends with a beautifully balanced succession of solo vocal, flutes, a racket of everyone, ebbing off into to flute melody.