8 years ago

Volume 10 Issue 3 - November 2004

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NovEMBER NEWS RouNDUP, coNT1Num COMPOSER TO Composer Though not by a Coalition member, I thought the Toronto Wind Orchestra 's concert this month worth mentioning, as they are presenting a programme of all­ Canadian repertoire by composers from Louis Applebaum and Harry Freedman through Phil Nimmons and Oscar Peterson. The concert is on November 20th at 8:00, and the venue's address is 90 Croatia St. (west from Dufferin, south of Bloor). For more info, call 416-461-6681. The next day, November 21, New Music Concerts presents Generation 2004 at the Music Gallery. Featuring the visiting Ensemble contemporain de Montreal, the concert features young Canadian composers Wolf Edwards, Nicolas Gilbert, Vincent­ Olivier Gagnon and D. Andrew Stewart and Mexican composer Ivan Ferrer Oroszco. Two New Hours will be recording this concert for future broadcast. November 28 is Esprit Orchestra's second concert of the new season, at the Jane Mallet Theatre, featuring the Canadian premiere of Tristan Keuris'Arcade. Dipping into the early part of December, I want to mention two final events which focus strongly on improvisatinn. On Saturday, December 4th, Arraymusic presents "The Composer/ Improviser" at the Music Gallery at 8:00. Exploring the space between composition and improvisation, this concert features world premieres by guest artist Lori Freedman as well as Stephen Clarke, Robert Stevenson, Cam McKittrick and John Abram. Sandwiching the Arraymusic concert, on December 3rd at the Music Gallery, and on Sunday December 5th at the Montreal Bistro (both at 8:00), my own organization, Earshot Concerts presents "Believe Everything You Hear", the new concert-length structured improvisation by Michael Hynes, performed by Hynes, the Earshot Ensemble, members of Motion Ensemble, and others. These.two performances, as well as three in Quebec, will be recorded for release in 2005. For more info call 416-538-2006. All in all a "New Music November" worthy of the nam! MusicWorks Celebrates Twenty-Six with Twenty-Six Celebrating its twenty-six years of publishing, Music Works magazine has issued a set of twenty-six beautiful postcards designed by Canadian and international artists and composers, including John Oswald, Allison Cameron, Udo Kasemets, R. Murray Schafer, Michael Snow, Hildegard Westerkamp and others. The postcards are available from MusicWorks magazine, by calling 416-977-3546. And visit www. torontohearandnow .corn, website of the Toronto Coalition of New Music Presenters, to read my interviews with Allison Cameron, John Oswald, and others about the postcards. Keith Denning INTERVIEW WITH , JEAN PICHE· BY PAUL STEENHUISEN Electroacoustic composer Jean Piche (b Trois-Rivieres, 1951) has been an active contributor to the vital Canadian electroacoustic scene since the mid-seventies. In 1988, he joined the faculty of the University of Montreal, where he continues to teach and do research in electroacoustic and computer music. One of his areas df activity involves the combination of electroacoustic music with video images, of which his piece Sieves is the most recent new work. As part of SOUNDplay <>, between November 4 and 7, Piche will be in Toronto to present a talk (November 4) and to premiere his new piece Sieves (Nov 5). While many other interesting artists will also be involved in SOUNDplay, I took this opportunity to speak with Piche by phone at his home in Montreal. STEENHUISEN: Tell me about the soundworld of your piece Sieves. Is there a primary sonic idea for the work? PICHE: I'm using 1930s recordings from a Southern Baptist pr,eacher, as well as the communications tapes recorded during the 9/11 attacks on New York. But the identity of the sound sources isn't obvious in the work. I'm using the material as dramatic texture. You get the dramatic content without actually understanding what they are saying. There is urgency to the sound materials, which comes across in the spectra of the voices. The other sound material is from my rather large bank of sound processing that I've accumulated over the years - mostly granular textures and stretching of acoustic materials. STEENHUISEN: But the soundworld is only part of the story with this piece. Tell me about the visual component. What are the primary visual materials in the work? PICHE: I'm using HO video for the first time, and the precision of the image is quite extraordinary. I've pulled my images from close-up shots of the ground - the earth, forests and paths in the countryside - so what you see are the intricate details of the soil as I walk with the camera pointing down. I compose with the images the same way I do with the sound material, in the sense that I will distort and process them with varying degrees of recognizability. The complexity of the image is associated with the complexity of the spund. By putting them rogether in the ways I do, it's really a new paradigm for composition, in that I compose the image and the sound together. STEENHUISEN: Is the ambiguity of a recognizable form important? PICHE: It is. The more I do of this, the more I realize how important it is. The reason this new form works is because meaning is extracted from these connections between the sonic and the visual. I'm not exactly sure what the meaning is yet, but I think the aesthetic experience comes from recognizing that there are conjunctions. They do not work based on narrative, but because of how time drives per- · ception. It comes down to what Michel Chion called synchrese - a theoretical construct of synchronization where you unequivocally know that the sound you have just heard is produced by the object you are seeing. The idea is to lead to those points of synchrese in the work in the same way a chord progession leads to a resolution on a tonal centre. STEENHUISEN: How do the sound and the visuals interact in your piece? PICHE: In this piece it's a little more complex, because the synchreses that I am working with are a lot looser. As a simple example, if you have a beat structure in the music you can cut the images to the upbeat or the downbeat. It's an element of grammar that you can go further and further with by saying that a high-pitched slow-moving sound will visually translate into a form of a straight line that flows slowly across the screen. But to be interesting, the metaphor has to 28 WWW. 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go a lot further. It's very hard to describe the mechanisms that lead to synchrese points that go beyond this direct anchoring. We don't have a grammar to describe it, so the problem of electroacoustics is transported to the visual. Synchronization points are an obvious way of having the parts interact. Where something in the sound also happens at equivalent time and speeds in the image, you'll see it right away. Even though those moments will typically only compose 10 to 20% of the work. STEENHUISEN: Why is rhe piece called Sieves? PICHE: The close-up shots of the earth look like you would want to take a sieve and sift out everything but the rocks or the greenery. That's more or less what I do with the image processing - I go in and take the colours out, take the movement out, and the forms of the objects I filmed. It's a metaphorical process of sifting and filtering through the raw materials. STEENHUISEN: We know you primarily as a composer, sound designer, and programmer. How do rhese skills prepare you for work in the visual domain? PICHE: That's the first question I answered when I started doing this kind of work. I was doing a lot of sound design for video artists such as Tom Sherman. We'd go into the studio together and he would do his capturing and processing of images, and I looked at it and realized that this is exactly what I do when I work with sound. It's the same workflow that I use when I'm composing with computer. You have your timeline, your sounds, your processing chops, and with the timeline you organize a coherent discourse. I started doing it and it was a pure joy. STEENHUISEN: So your training as a composer is transferable to your work with video. PICHE: Directly. Composers deal with time, like video artists and filmmakers. In this new NOVEMBER 1 - DECEMBER 7 2004 form we're also talking about design, which can be very intuitive, as long as you have the techniques to put them together, and through electroacoustic music, I have that. I work with some visual artists, and many are completely confounded by the issue of time. They're not used to it. When design becomes movement, it's a very different set of skills that apply. STEENHUISEN: Does your experience as an electroacoustic composer give you a unique perspective 011 the visual? PICHE: Yes, absolutely unique. STEENHUISEN: How is that different from someone who is trained in film? PICHE: If you're trained in film, you're trained in story-telling, first and foremost. Fiction, non-fiction, documentary - in 99% of film, the central concern is story-telling. That's not what I do. I provide an audio-visual experience that uses coherent language but is non-narrative, or is semi-narrative. This form has a lot of promise, and technologically, it's feasible now to do credible images that can be supported by music only, and don't need narrative. The means of production for visuals now are extremely interesting, catching up to what we've been doing with sound for over a decade. It's an exciting new form that has a lot of depth to it, and is linked to a technology that is highly available. I think it will grow. STEENHUISEN: What do you call this new form? PICHE: I call it Video Music. To distinguish it from Music Videos, and'Visual Music. STEENHUISEN: What is Visual Music? CONTINUES

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