Projections libérantes

Simon Martin

Projections libérantes

  • Simon Martin
  • Year of composition: 2007
  • Duration: 10:00
  • Instrumentation: saxophone quartet
  • Commission: Quasar, with support from the CALQ

This composition pays tribute to Paul-Émile Borduas, one of the founders of artistic modernity — and freedom — in Québec. Two of his works have had an impact on my own work: his 1949 text Projections libérantes, and his painting Composition 69, found on the artist’s easel upon his death in 1960.

Composition 69 imposes itself at first glance: the canvas is almost completely covered with massive interlocking black impastos that form a “shiny wall of coal”. (See the comment made by Jean-Paul Filion cited by François-Marc Gagnon in the catalogue for the Paul-Émile Borduas retrospective at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, 1988, p. 466.) A little bit of white is seen at the top of the wall and through a few cracks, like the cosmic void. I believe this is the infinite toward which the painter projected himself, free for — and freed by — eternity. As a matter of fact, in reference to being fired from teaching at the École du meuble the previous year, Borduas concludes Liberating Projections thus: “You have ended it! So be it! But I defy any power to erase its memory or its example.” (Paul-Émile Borduas, “Liberating Projections”, Écrits/Writings 1942-1958, introduced and edited by François-Marc Gagnon, translated by François-Marc Gagnon and Dennis Young, Halifax, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1978, p. 113.)

In my piece, I have worked almost exclusively with so-called “multiphonics.” These are sounds produced using unusual fingerings and distorted pressure mouthpiece, resulting in a fractured or split “multiple” quality. I have approached these phenomena like blocks I could superimpose and juxtapose, drawing inspiration from Composition 69’s impastos. Also, in music, multiphonics can occasionally feel like “noise”, or data scrambling, similar to the color black in painting. Yet, like Borduas, I have tried to treat this material in a specific way, applying a strict formal structure out of which a certain expressiveness unfolds.

I would like to thank the Quasar ensemble for its invaluable collaboration.

[English translation: François Couture, xi-07]

This text is unavailable in English.

Projections libérantes a été composée à l’hiver et à l’été 2007 et a été créée le 6 avril 2008 par Quasar à La Chapelle à Montréal (Québec). Projections libérantes est une commande de l’ensemble Quasar avec l’aide du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ).


  • April 6, 2008, QuasarVoyages: Montréal — New York, La Chapelle — scènes contemporaines, Montréal (Québec)
Live recording of Projections libérantes (2007) by Simon Martin during the concert Hommage à Leduc, Borduas et Riopelle; video: L’Hibou —; 2016