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In the press

Akousma: Quinzième sommet de l’exploration électroacoustique

Alain Brunet, La Presse, October 15, 2018

Présenté dans des conditions acoustiques on ne peut plus optimales, le festival Akousma XV démarre aujourd’hui et se conclut samedi: six programmes des plus nourrissants pour les amateurs les plus pointus des approches électroniques et électroacoustiques.

Francis Dhomont

Ce soir, 20h, Au Gesù

Cet incontournable de l’électroacroustique cultive encore aujourd’hui un intérêt fervent pour une écriture dite «morphologique» et aussi pour ses observations créatrices des «ambiguïtés» entre le son et l’image. Entre le Québec et la France, Francis Dhomont a cumulé les honneurs sa vie durant: Grand Prix Giga-Hertz 2013 - Allemagne; docteur honoris causa de l’Université de Montréal; Prix [de Printemps de la] SACEM 2007 de la meilleure création contemporaine électroacoustique; prix Lynch-Staunton du Conseil des arts du Canada; 1er prix (1981) et prix «Magisterium» (1988) au Concours international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (France); prix Ars Electronica 1992 (Autriche). De 1978 à 2004, il a partagé ses activités entre la France et le Québec, où il a enseigné à l’Université de Montréal de 1980 à 1996. Le nonagénaire vit aujourd’hui à Avignon, compose toujours et étoffe sa réflexion théorique. En feriez-vous autant à 92 ans? Au programme de demain, plusieurs œuvres en création nord-américaine.

La lucarne des rêves

Demain, 20h, Au Conservatoire de musique de Montréal

Voilà un film immersif conçu par la Française Cendrine Robelin, avec [la participation] de Martin Gracineau (son) et de Claude Mercier (montage). Voilà une œuvre cinématographique autour de la musique concrète, au sein de laquelle l’approche des compositeurs Bernard Parmegiani et Lionel Marchetti est respectueusement évoquée. «Je rêve d’un film avec le pouvoir de transformer notre perception des bruits du monde et de nous inviter à en faire de la musique. Ces bruits du monde nous entourent et nous façonnent sans que l’on y prête attention. C’est la rumeur de la ville, l’éveil des oiseaux, un moteur en action, des voix, des bruits de machines, des instruments», indique Cendrine Robelin, question de piquer notre curiosité et de nous convier à cette soirée où elle présente également Bain de gong, d’une durée de sept minutes.

Dôme + Sinus + Fiction

Mercredi, 20h, À la Satosphère de la SAT

Dans le contexte d’Akousma, la Satosphère de la Société des arts technologiques (SAT) accueille mercredi trois œuvres immersives sous la bannière Dome + Sinus + Fiction. Un «ensemble d’oscillateurs» réunit d’abord un florilège d’électroacousticiens québécois, suivi de Out of Joint, «essai d’hybridation sonore autour du Macbeth de Shakespeare», imaginé par la compositrice québécoise Monique Jean. Le programme se conclut par le travail du compositeur français Franck Vigroux, intégration singulière de musique contemporaine et de bruitisme, mais aussi de théâtre, de danse et de vidéo. Alternativement guitariste, platiniste, électroacousticien, producteur électro, improvisateur, compositeur, il a travaillé notamment avec des musiciens iconoclastes de réputation internationale tels Mika Vainio (Pan Sonic), Reinhold Friedl, Elliott Sharp, Joey Baron, Zeena Parkins, Ars Nova ensemble instrumental.

Complexe + Nature

Jeudi, 20h, À l’Usine C

Andrea Gozzi et Francesco Casciaro présentent Dot Plot, dialogue improvisé via le PrintStrument, sorte de synthétiseur polyphonique électromécanique conçu à partir d’une imprimante matricielle. De la compositrice d’origine mexicaine Nashim Gargari, on aura droit à Ensifera Ventum et Glaciar and Blue Whale, quête d’unité avec la science, les arts visuels et l’environnement. La compositrice canadienne Rose Bolton présentera ensuite The Blinding, évocation sonore du fonctionnement de la mémoire. S’ensuit Live Somewhere du Québécois Philippe Vandal, qui travaille ici sur nos problèmes de perception induits par la saturation d’informations. Le numéro suivant s’intitule Spiel; la performeuse Nien Tzu Weng exploitera le concept «pour bouche préparée» de Michael Montanaro et de Tatev Yesayan. Après quoi le compositeur québécois Georges Forget offrira Eurosignal, inspiré d’un ancien système de radiomessagerie (téléavertisseur, pager). La soirée se conclut par Les Hexacordes bien synthétisés, micro-pièces explorant les 35 hexacordes de la «pitch class set theory» d’Allen Forte.

Chaos + Émergent

Vendredi, 20h, À l’Usine C

La soirée Chaos + Émergent réunira d’abord les Italiens Francesco Canavese et Francesco Giomi, qui exécuteront The SDENG Project, exploration des relations entre le live electronic et l’improvisation. La pièce Thunderdrone, des Espagnols Diego de León et Manu Retamero, témoignera de leur expertise en conception de synthétiseurs et de l’influence qu’ils exercent sur le genre glitch-ambient ou même la techno. Par la suite, la Québécoise Myriam Bleau nous offrira un de ses systèmes audiovisuels dont elle a le secret… quelque part entre l’installation et la performance musicale intégrant l’électroacoustique, la techno, la pop ou le hip-hop. Myriam Bleau sera suivie de l’Allemand Markus Mehr, dont l’œuvre Liquid Empires résulte de subtils traitements d’enregistrements sous-marins… glou glou! Ce programme sera coiffé de Giant Claw, œuvre singulière de l’artiste audiovisuel américain Keith Rankin.

Viva l’Italia!

Samedi, 20h, À l’Usine C

À l’évidence, la présence italienne domine le 15e festival Akousma, le programme de clôture en fera l’éloquente démonstration. D’abord au menu sera diffusée la pièce Valence du Montréalais Ilyaa Ghafouri, un diplômé du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, sous la tutelle de Louis Dufort, en l’occurrence le directeur artistique d’Akousma. Ensuite, les compositeurs italiens uniront leurs forces: Francesco Casciaro, Francesco Canavese, Francesco Giomi et Andrea Gozzi diffuseront un florilège d’œuvres les ayant marqués; o Down de Gabriele Marangoni pour quatre performeurs; Chants parallèles du brillantissime Luciano Berio; Microclima II de Marco Dibeltulu, imprégnée de musiques traditionnelles de Sardaigne; Scabro de Francesco Giomi, de facture «rugueuse, rustre, rude et impolie»; Otkaz [de] Simonluca Laitempergher, fondée sur le principe d’oktaz, point précis où un mouvement s’arrête et un autre s’amorce.

… dans des conditions acoustiques on ne peut plus optimales…

Akousma

Alain Brunet, La Presse, October 19, 2016

Michel Chion, Troisième symphonie, l’audio-divisuelle

À l’Usine C le 19 octobre, 18h

Le compositeur français qualifie sa troisième symphonie d’œuvre «audio-visuelle». Il s’applique à y faire s’entrechoquer sons et images de différentes manières. Cette œuvre a pour objet de «célébrer la vie sans aucune référence religieuse» et d’évoquer la mort «plus solaire que pluvieuse». De plus, Michel Chion dit avoir eu recours aux principes musicaux de la composition pour monter les images et les faire interagir avec les sons.

Pita, Get In

À l’Usine C le 19 octobre, 20h

Pita est le pseudonyme du fondateur des Éditions Mego, Peter Rehberg. Londonien transplanté à Vienne, ce vétéran de la scène électro s’inspire du bruitisme, de l’ambient, de l’industriel, du drone, de la techno, mais aussi des premières vagues électroacoustiques. Pita a enregistré une douzaine d’albums au cours des deux dernières décennies. C’est un habitué des plus grands festivals électro: Sónar, All Tomorrow’s Parties, CTM Berlin, Donaufestival. Il a reçu le prix Ars Electronica en 1999. Get In, qui sera présentée à Montréal, suit les œuvres Get Out (1999) et Get Off (2004). De la suite dans les idées… au cœur du son.

Adam Stanović, Escapade et Mettallurgic

À l’Usine C le 20 octobre, 20h

Directeur du programme de maîtrise en art sonore de l’Université de Sheffield, Adam Stanović se spécialise dans la composition d’œuvres électroacoustiques de type acousmatique. On a pu entendre ses œuvres dans quelque 500 festivals et concerts à travers le monde. Escapade se veut un assemblage inédit de micro-fragments de musiques orchestrales. Quant à Mettallurgic, elle met en scène l’exploration sonore d’un morceau de métal via la résonance, la percussion et autres manipulations physiques de l’objet, et aussi via le traitement électronique de ces manipulations.

Antwood, Pièces de l’album Virtuous.scr

À l’Usine C le 21 octobre, 20h

Antwood est le pseudonyme de Tristan Douglas, artiste canadien endossé par les labels Cocobass et B.YRSLF Division (sous le pseudo et jeu de mots Margaret Antwood). Il jouera à Akousma les versions alternatives de pièces tirées de son plus récent album, Virtuous.scr. L’idée de cet album se fonde sur la question suivante: l’intelligence artificielle peut-elle respecter un code d’éthique qui lui est propre si elle connaît un éveil «émotionnel»? Autour de cette thématique, la musique expérimentale investit les codes de la musique populaire se déployant dans un environnement électronique.

Richard Chartier, Recurrence / Retracing

À l’Usine C le 22 octobre, 20 h

Actif depuis la fin des années 90, le Californien Richard Chartier s’est taillé une réputation dans les sous-tendances néo-moderne et micro-son de l’art sonore. Sa musique et ses installations ont été présentées en Europe, en Asie, en Océanie comme en Amérique du Nord. En 2000, il a fondé le label Line et assumé la direction artistique de nombreuses installations sonores. Son approche se veut autoréflexive: sa musique minimaliste explore l’espace sonore tout entier à travers les différentes caractéristiques de la relation entre émetteur et récepteur d’une œuvre: l’écoute, la perception, l’attention, le silence, etc.

Francis Dhomont, Cycle des profondeurs I, II e III

Au Conservatoire de musique de Montréal les 20, 21 et 22 octobre, 17h45

Parmi les pionniers vivants de l’électroacoustique, Francis Dhomont a amorcé un très long cycle de création à la fin des années 40. Il a passé une large part de sa vie professionnelle entre la France et le Québec. Nombre d’œuvres importantes du répertoire lui sont attribuées, dont les trois volets de ce Cycle des profondeurs, présentés en autant de jours. Sous le regard d’un soleil noir (1979-1981) relate un naufrage intérieur, inspiré des écrits du psychiatre et psychanalyste Ronald D Laing. Forêt profonde (1994-1996) est un mélodrame acousmatique d’après un essai de Bruno Bettelheim. Le cri du Choucas (2014-2015) évoque l’approche psychanalytique de Marthe Robert.

Michel Chion; Pita; Adam Stanović; Antwood; Richard Chartier; Francis Dhomont

trans_canada Festival: Trends in Acousmatics and Soundscapes

Wibke Bantelmann, Computer Music Journal, no. 29:3, September 1, 2005

The trans_canada festival of electroacoustic music by Canadian composers at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Karlsruhe was certainly no everyday experience for the interested German public. A festival of acousmatic music—and acousmatic music only—is quite unusal. The German avant-garde music scene is still uncommonly lively, but most composers prefer either instrumental music (with electroacoustic elements) or multimedia works. The idea of invisible music seems not to touch the German musical sensibility.

Despite this, 460 visitors found their way to ZKM. During 10-13 February, 2005, they experienced a four day-long plunge into the Canadian way of composing, and had the opportunity to learn more about the “Canadian Example” as Daniel Teruggi of the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM) called it in his paper. According to Mr. Teruggi, the liveliness and outstanding quality of the electroacoustic music scene in Canada is the result of good composers but also of academically sound research and training and a wide range of philosophical approaches to music. The opening of the festival showed another aspect of this “example.” Paul Dubois, the present Canadian ambassador to Germany, came from Berlin to open the festival—cultural policy in Canada apparently knows and supports the electroacoustic scene intensely, quite contrary to German policy.

Francis Dhomont, Robert Normandeau, Gilles Gobeil, Nicolas Bernier, Hildegard Westerkamp, and Louis Dufort took part in the festival and presented works (Ned Bouhalassa was invited but for health reasons was unable to attend). Nine pieces were commissioned by ZKM and received their world premieres at the festival.

trans_canada not only offered an occasion for Germans to learn about Canadian acousmatic music; apparently, it also connected the Canadians themselves. “It seems we had to come to the ZKM in Karlsruhe to get together,” said Robert Normandeau at the last concert. And so, the Francophone composers from the east, rooted in the Paris school of “musique concrète,” met the Anglophone soundscape composers from the West coast. “I was very much surprised when Francis Dhomont told us that he does not like the original sounds to be changed so much that you can’t distinguish their origin any longer,” said Hildegard Westerkamp. “We are not as far away from each other as I used to think.”

This proved to be quite true, as could be heard. The parallels between their new works, Brief an den Vater by Mr. Dhomont and Für Dich—For You by Ms. Westerkamp, were striking. Both compositions were not only inspired by but also formally based on literature and the structure, the sound, the rhythm of the text. The work by Mr. Dhomont, with the scraping of a pen as a sort of leitmotif, was no less abstract than Ms. Westerkamp’s music with its sea-sounds (gulls, wind, waves). And her fantasy land called “home” is not more “real” then his world of inner struggle. Both works showed an extreme sensitivity for subtle, delicate sounds which were spread in many layers, throwing shadows of sound, and constantly and slowly developing into new shapes and shades. The differences between the works seemed after all (to this listener at least) to be ones of personal style and expression than of basic principles.

Another new work with words came from Darren Copeland. I don’t want to be inside me anymore was quite singular in the festival due to its definite focus on content, on a “real story.” This fact gave the piece a strong dramatic quality leaving hardly any room for imagination. The intention of the sounds to build around the absorbing, sometimes even vexatious, words seemed to force the listeners to constantly keep their full attention on the meaning of the text. It was a deeply impressive piece, even if it was to a certain extent more dramatic than musical. (Although other listeners might experience it differently if they do not understand the German text.)

In a way, this work resembles a compositional style of a very different kind, that of Barry Truax. The connection may be found in the very sense of reality in both composer’s works: the reality of the feeling of isolation on one hand, and the reality of an existing landscape (streams, peaks, caves) on the other.

Even Gilles Gobeil’s magnificent medieval drama, Ombres, espaces, silences…, followed roughly this direction. This piece was not about feeling or landscape, it was about reality, too, in this case the reality of history, only by far more sublime, sensitive, and imaginative. Not “cinema for the ear” but a “novel for the ear” (something like The Name of the Rose?)! However, the form and structure of this work is by far more of a narrative nature than strictly abstract-musical.

It was Robert Normandeau and the youngsters of trans_canada who were most abstract, and therefore the strongest advocates of a true “invisible music.” It was not only not to be seen, it was not to be imagined. There was nothing real, nothing you could get hold of, it was more or less a complete deconstruction of sounds, ideas, narration. They appeared not to start from any landscape, be it imagined or real, inside or outside the head; they started from ideas, ideas of sound, ideas of form. Even the antique Writing Machine in the work by Nicolas Bernier was more a (slightly exotic) sound than a sense, more a historical reminiscence than an element of form.

Coincidence shows her unaccountable face, experiment and surprise follow. You could hear experience and mastery in the work of Robert Normandeau, of course. You were always sure that it was him who played with coincidence and not the other way round. His world premiere, ZedKejeM, was highly dynamic, with the energy and rhythm from a dancefloor, but still showed the deepness, density, and versatility of a deep-thinking organizer of energy and fantasy. Every single sound seemed well calculated, the effects carefully set.

The music of his younger colleagues, Mr. Bernier and Louis Dufort, was more spontaneous, wandering dreamily through all the possibilities of technique and sound, to find out what would happen. Mr. Dufort spread a richness and variety of colors in a free, open structure that simply followed the beauty of the sounds created. In contrast to that, Mr. Bernier followed an intellectual plan, he set his rules and let them work. One always sensed the will behind the music, one always tried to follow and understand the experiment instead of just enjoying the result. But, on the other hand, this method produced a certain strong energy in the work. This composer had the power to raise and hold the intellectual interest of the listener.

All in all, it was fascinating to take in over a few days such a wide range of styles and personalities, and to learn a little about their methods.

trans_canada also provided the chance to meet the composers in person. Each of them delivered a paper about their work. They could only give a rough survey, of course, in a 45-min talk. Rather than concentrating on techniques or software, most composers just tried to acquaint their colleagues and the small number of other interested people with their sources of inspiration, their opinions, their philosophy. Remarkable was the clear delivery of all the composers and the relaxed atmosphere of these sessions. There seemed to be no need to impress anyone, and not so much need to discuss, let alone debate. Everybody was open-minded and respected the others, as if trying to learn and understand, not to question fundamentals.

It was like a good talk between colleagues and friends. Mr. Normandeau provided insight into his large archive of sound and his permanent work on the human voice. Mr. Gobeil expressed his preference for the sound of exotic instruments (like the Daxophone) and his dislike of techno music (inducing him to write a techno-piece). Mr. Dhomont talked about the relation between accident and control in his work, marking his own position somewhere between Pierre Boulez and John Cage:Boulez would say: ‘This is incidental, throw it away;’ Cage would say: ‘This is incidental, so I take it;’ I say: ‘Look, there is an interesting incident, but should I take it?’” He also used the opportunity to call for more polyphony in electroacoustic music instead of the exclusive concentration on creating the most original, most exotic new sound: “In an orchestra, you mix different instruments, but the single instrument becomes not less beautiful.”

The exceptional environment of ZKM supported this beautiful richness of sounds and the inventiveness of the composers immensely. The two concert venues offer exquisite acoustics. They were equipped with 70 concert loudspeakers, placed in either circles or in a kind of “acousmonium surround environment.” This, in conjunction with the timbral and spatial qualities of the works, created an extraordinary musical experience.

… it was fascinating to take in over a few days such a wide range of styles and personalities…

Electroacoustics, the Quebecois Way

François Couture, electrocd.com, March 22, 2004

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right? Wrong — at least when it comes to electroacoustics, the beautiful province of Quebec compares very well to any other region of the world. Call me chauvinistic, I don’t care: Quebec is home to several composers of tremendous talent and influential professors.

My goal is not to turn this article in an analytical essay, but, as a music reviewer and unstoppable listener, I am convinced that there is such a thing as Québécois electroacoustics. Despite the stylistic variety among our composers, I detect a Québécois “sound,” something that sounds to me neither British nor French or German; something that calls to me and speaks to me in a language more immediate and easier to understand.

This “unity in diversity” is probably, at least in part, due to the lasting influence of a small number of key composers whose academic teachings have shaped our younger generations. I am thinking first and foremost of Francis Dhomont and Yves Daoust. So let’s begin this sound path with a Frenchman so Québécois at heart that he was awarded a prestigious Career Grant from the Conseil des arts et lettres du Québec. I can sincerely recommend all of Dhomont’s albums: his graceful writing, his narrative flair and his intelligence turn any of his works into fascinating gems. I have often publicly expressed my admiration for (including in my first Sound Path, so I will skip it this time), but , his first large-scale work, remains an international classic of electroacoustic music, and his more recent shows how close to perfection his art has grown — the piece AvatArsSon in particular, my first pick for this Sound Path.

If Dhomont’s music is often constructed following large theoretical, literary and sociological themes, Yves Daoust’s works lean more toward poetry and the anecdote. Most of his pieces betray his respect for the abstractionist ideals of the French school, but his seemingly naive themes (water, crowds, a Chopin Fantasia or a childhood memory) empower his music with an unusual force of evocation. His latest album, , also displays a willingness to grow and learn. One is tempted to hear the influence of his more electronica-savvy students in the startling title triptych.

To those two pillars of Quebec electroacoustics, I must add the names of Robert Normandeau and Gilles Gobeil. Normandeau is a very good example of what I consider to be the “typical” Québécois sound: a certain conservatism in the plasticity of sounds (the result of the combined influence of the British and French schools); great originality in their use; and an uncanny intelligence in the discourse which, even though it soars into academic thought, doesn’t rob the listener of his or her pleasure. My favorite album remains , in part because of the beautiful piece Le Renard et la Rose, inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novel Le Petit Prince – and also because of Venture, a tribute to the Golden Age of progressive rock (a pet peeve I share with the composer, might I add). As for Gobeil’s music, it is the wildness of wilderness, the turmoil of human passions, the sudden gestures, the copious splashes of sonic matter thrown all around. If remains an essential listen, his most recent album , a collaboration with guitarist René Lussier, stands as his most accomplished (and thrilling!) work to date.

These four composers may represent the crème de la crème of academic circles, but empreintes DIGITALes’ catalog counts numerous young composers and artists whose work deeply renew the vocabulary of their older colleagues.

I would like to mention , the just released debut album by Christian Bouchard. His fragmented approach seems to draw as much from academic electroacoustics as from experimental electronica. Thanks to some feverish editing and dizzying fragmentation, Parcelles 1 and Parcelles 2 evoke avant-garde digital video art. I also heartily recommend Louis Dufort’s album , which blends academic and noise approaches. His stunning piece Zénith features treatments of samples of Luc Lemay’s voice (singer with the death-metal group Gorguts). I am also quite fond of Marc Tremblay’s rather coarse sense of humor. On his CD he often relies on pop culture (from The Beatles to children’s TV shows). His piece Cowboy Fiction, a “western for the ear” attempting to reshape the American dream, brings this Sound Path to a quirky end.

Serious or facetious, abstract or evocative, Québécois electroacoustic music has earned a place in the hearts of avant-garde music lovers everywhere. Now it is your turn to explore its many paths.

Québécois electroacoustic music has earned a place in the hearts of avant-garde music lovers everywhere…

Introduction(s) to the Delights of Electroacoustic Music

François Couture, electrocd.com, October 15, 2003

Electroacoustic music is an acquired taste. Like it or not, radio and television have conditioned us from an early age into accepting some musical (tonal and rhythmical) molds as being “normal.” Therefore, electroacoustics, along with other sound-based (in opposition to note-based) forms of musical expression like free improvisation, is perceived as being “abnormal.” That’s why a first exposure to this kind of music often turns into a memorable experience — for better or worse. Many factors come into play, but choosing an album that offers an adequate (i.e. friendly and gentle) introduction to the genre will greatly help in letting the initial esthetic shock turn into an experience of Beauty and mark the beginning of a new adventure in sound.

My goal with this sound path is simply to point out a few titles that I think have the potential to encourage instead of discourage, titles opening a door to a new musical dimension. Of course, this selection can only be subjective. But it might be helpful to new enthusiasts and to aficionados looking for gift ideas that would spread good music around. After all, Christmas is only a few weeks away!

Bridges

We usually develop new interests from existing interests. What I mean is: we explore music genres that are new to us because a related interest brought us there. That’s why when it comes to electroacoustic music, mixed works (for tape and instrument) or works related to specific topics are often the best place to find a bridge that will gently lead the listener into the new territory. For example, people who enjoy reading travel literature will find in Kristoff K.Roll’s the sublimated narrative of a journey through Central America. Those still young enough to enjoy fairy tales (I’m one of them) will find in Francis Dhomont’s an in-depth reflection on this literary genre as inspired by the works of psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, in the form of a captivating work with multiple narratives (in many languages) and electroacoustic music of a great evocative strength. Lighter and more fanciful, by Roxanne Turcotte finds its source in childlike imagination and is in part aimed at children without over-simplifying its artistic process.

Guitar fans can turn to , a wonderful project for which classical guitarist Arturo Parra co-wrote pieces with some of Quebec’s best electroacoustic composers: Stéphane Roy, Francis Dhomont (Quebecer at heart, at the very least), Robert Normandeau, and Gilles Gobeil. The latter has just released an album-long piece, , written with and featuring avant-garde guitarist René Lussier. Lussier’s followers and people interested in Goethe’s play Faust (and its rich heritage) will find here an essential point of convergence, another bridge.

Essential listens

Those who want to explore further will probably want to venture into more abstract electroacoustic art. I recommend starting with the Quebec composers. Chauvinism? No way. It’s just that the music of composers like Dhomont, Normandeau, Gobeil, Yves Daoust, or Yves Beaupré seems to me to be more accessible than the music of British or French composers. It is more immediate, has a stronger impact (Gobeil, usually hitting hard), a more pleasant form of lyricism (Daoust, Beaupré), more welcoming architectures and themes (Dhomont, Normandeau). If you need places to start, try Normandeau’s , Gobeil’s , Dhomont’s , and Beaupré’s .

That being said, there are hours upon hours of beauty and fascination to be found in the works of Michel Chion (his powerful ), Bernard Parmegiani (), Jonty Harrsison (), Denis Smalley (), and Natasha Barrett (), but they may seem more difficult or thankless on first listen. And for those interested in where these music come from, the EMF label offers , the complete works of Pierre Schaeffer, the father of musique concrète and grandfather of electroacoustics.

Tiny ideas

A compilation album has the advantage of offering a large selection of artists and esthetics in a small, affordable format. Available at a budget price, proposes a strong sampler of the productions on the label empreintes DIGITALes. The albums and , along with the brand new volume of the series, cull short pieces (often under three minutes) to trigger interrogations and discoveries in those with a short attention span.

And finally, for those of you who want to take their time and explore in short steps, the collection produced by the French label Métamkine contains many wonderful 3" CDs, 20 minutes in duration each, for a reduced price. The catalog includes titles by renown composers such as Michel Chion, Lionel Marchetti, Michèle Bokanowski, Bernhard Günter, and Éliane Radigue. These tiny albums are perfect for gift exchanges.

Of course, all of the above are only recommendations. The best sound path to discovery is the one you follow by yourself, little by little.

Best listens!

Constats électroniques: La mouvance acousmatique

François Tousignant, Le Devoir, October 16, 2000

Première chose qui saute à l’oreille après le concert de jeudi soir: il y a bel et bien une «école de Montréal» en électroacoustique. Toutes les œuvres entendues au programme participent d’une même approche, celle lancée par Pierre Schaeffer. Cela consiste en le fait qu’il a fallu, pour le nouvel art qu’était la musique faite de sons enregistrés, manipulés ou électroniquement générés, définir un vocabulaire, inventer un solfège et composer un répertoire de sons et de manipulations sonores. Ce dernier point est malheureusement trop souvent confondu avec la composition elle-même, ce qui rend l’art alors un certain art acousmatique stérile.

Le programme s’ouvrait et se fermait avec deux extraits de Francis Dhomont. On ainsi voulu rendre un hommage à celui qui est de plus en plus reconnu comme le «fondateur» de cette école. À l’heure où il œuvrait à la Faculté de musique de l’Université de Montréal, quand on parlait de musique électroacoustique, le membre artistique de l’équation primait sur le technique.

Non seulement la musique de Dhomont reste-t-elle encore belle et jeune, mais diffusée ainsi en salle - Robert Normandeau!, sublime poète de la console! - sa dimension réelle éblouit avec autant de force que de sensualité, d’intelligence que d’inspiration. Peu importe le média, la grande musique, c’est cela. Mémoires vives, du ci-nommé Normandeau, est une pièce un peu rhétorique (je maintiens mon jugement antérieur), mais qui passe mieux en salle qu’au disque - comme tout le reste du programme d’ailleurs; après tout, on n’a chez soi que deux haut-parleurs plutôt que l’armada ici sollicitée et l’espace utilisé. Dommage pourtant que le climat fût brouillé par un impair technique, équivalent du trou de mémoire au concert «habituel» et qui a toutefois démontré que, oui, quelque part, ces machines à musique restaient humaines.

Le plus beau moment, là où vraiment on a senti une succession au maître fondateur, reste les Paysages intérieurs, de Stéphane Roy. Non seulement la «bande» est splendide, mais Normandeau s’est hissé à des sommets d’inspiration interprétative pour la rendre exceptionnellement sensible. On est pris par cette mouvance qui s’ouvre et qui nous ouvre, qui tourne qui appelle, parfois répond, et qui nous dit… que si on fait cette musique, c’est qu’elle doit être faite ainsi car le message ne saurait être livré autrement. […]

… il y a bel et bien une «école de Montréal» en électroacoustique.

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