Musique de l’Odyssée sonore

Claude Schryer

Programme notes
To Louis

“Sound Odyssey is a world symphony! Throughout the journey, one is invited to discover the multiplicity of levels of sound as creative material and as an echo of everyday life.”

— (NFB, 1997)

Musique de l’Odyssée sonore (Sound Odyssey Music) is a collection of seven electroacoustic miniatures from Louis Ricard’s National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentary about R Murray Schafer’s theories of acoustic ecology and the soundscape of Québec City.

I worked on this film as consultant, on-screen participant and composer. During post-production, I collaborated closely with sound designer Claude Langlois in the development of the soundtrack. From the extensive collection of sounds recorded during the shooting of the film in 1995 and 1996 in Québec City I composed electroacoustic transformations of Québec’s soundscapes which connect narrative elements in the film.

[ix-97]


This is a revised and condensed version of the original music from the film.

Musique de l’Odyssée sonore was realized in my studio and at PRIM, centre d’arts médiatiques, Montréal. Special thanks to Claude Langlois for the poetry and musicality of his sound editing and to Shelley Craig and her assistant Geoffrey Mitchell for their sensitive sound mix. Thanks to R Murray Schafer, Compagnie Jean-Pierre Perreault, Chœur Maha (Kathy Kennedy, artistic director), Wolf Project members and to the Groupe de musique expérimentale de Marseille (GMEM). Thanks also to sound recordists Richard Besse, Marcel Fraser, and Gilles Corbeil, and to foley artist Paul Hubert.

  • Composer(s): Claude Schryer
  • Year of composition: 1996-97
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0704813422
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média

Movements

Prologue

Initiation to the Odyssey

“Long before birth, in its first life, a being floats in a sonic world. Long before sight, there is the ear, a shell of marine depths. Never closing its eyelid, it listens to each moment of its history in a single breath. This is how each one of us possesses a soundscape, untouchable, like air, and unique like an imprint.” 1

Synthesized water, foley of water and rubbed skin, clock crank, train siren, native percussion, improvisational beating on wooden bridge, train bell, native American healing chant sung by members of the Wolf Project, a soldier’s shout and wind.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318426
  • Duration: 1:48

Cloches

Transformation of the city of one hundred bell towers

“One day a bell… The next a cannon. I heard the bronze sing or roar and return to its liquid state and reappear in accordance with the mood of men.” 1

Car horns at a wedding and natural and transformed church bells.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318437
  • Duration: 0:49
  • ISRC: CAD509712780

Envol

A seaplane touches the sky

“In the beginning of the world, the loudest and most powerful sounds came from nature. Mankind listened to thunder, volcanoes and recognised the voice of God. Ever since the first days of humanity, man unifies himself with the soundscape.” 1

Seaplane taking off, water, fire, thunder, crickets and windblown dry grass.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318448
  • Duration: 1:20
  • ISRC: CAD509712790

Eau

The multiple voices of liquid

“At the time of the shaking of the earth, the city emerged from the bottom of the ocean and was always surrounded by water. No two drops of water sing the same note and every river has its own melody. In the winter season, the ice and snow bring to it a particular tonality.” 1

Transformed water: streams and creeks, Montmorency falls, Saint-Laurent river, summer rain and winter ice.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318459
  • Duration: 1:23
  • ISRC: CAD509712800

Nuit

Portrait of a quiet city by night

“In the nocturnal soundscape, sounds become closer. They have much more clarity and are easily distinguishable one from another. The ear is more sensitive. Almost anything makes it vibrate.” 1

Electronic music, cries of seagulls, boat horn, earthquake rumble and glissando of electronic music.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318460
  • Duration: 0:59
  • ISRC: CAD509712810

Église

From celestial voices emerges a cry anchored in rock

Grandfather clock, Native American healing chant sung by members of the Wolf Project, vocal improvisation by Choeur Maha, boat horn, church bell, resonant wind, transformed voice reading the poem Vous n’êtes pas écoeurés de mourir bande de caves (Aren’t you tired of dying bunch of idiots) by Claude Péloquin reproduced on a mural by Jordi Bonet.

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318471
  • Duration: 1:57
  • ISRC: CAD509712820

Épilogue

Conclusion of the Odyssey

“The soundscape is a new territory to discover, at the heart of my city, at the heart of myself. Wind, water, steps, wood, the lost sounds of the past and the overpopulation of sounds today.” 1

“I explored the soundscape and my ear drew me towards the secret path where reality and invisibility meet, and where soul and mind talk eternally.” 1

“Now I will do nothing but listen… I hear all sounds running together, combined, fused or following, sounds of the city and sounds out of the city, sounds of the day and night…” 2

Transformed train, electronic music, explosion alarm whistle, dynamite explosion, steps of dancers from the Compagnie Jean-Pierre-Perreault, vocal improvisation by Chœur Maha, human breath, water, flags in wind, transformed water and foley of water and rubbed skin.

1 Excerpts from the narration of the film written by Georgette Duchaîne

2 Walt Whitman (American poet), Song of Myself, 1819-1892

[ix-97]

  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • ISWC: T0703318482
  • Duration: 2:49
  • ISRC: CAD509712830