Dans le ventre de la machine

Nicolas Bernier

Programme Notes

Dans le ventre de la machine

Wood, metal, electricity, frequencies, water, flesh, fuel, violence. The Machine is very much alive. Amid its organized chaos lies an unfitness to operate objectively. It can trap us in its inescapable cogs in a momentary lapse of concentration or, worse, a moment of bad luck. It is at that moment that this piece was composed, when I felt like a prisoner of the Machine, unable to stop it, unable to escape from its belly, to focus my energies where I needed. The resulting work shows the undeniable presence of the body; gestures are torn between will, lethargy, and spastic frenzy before the last breath dies.

The basic materials were generated in a live session with a loudspeakers and piezo microphones system that produced feedback, and a machine built by my carpenter friend Alexandre Landry. This machine full of cogs, wheels and levers always brings to mind Mario Savio’s famous Bodies upon the gears speech from 1964, in which he vigorously talked about freedom and resistance: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”

[English translation: François Couture, ii-12]

Dans le ventre de la machine was realized from June 2010 to April 2011 in the composer’s studio. Thanks to Olivier Girouard, Gilles Gobeil, and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay for their valued ears. Thanks also to University of Huddersfield, and Fonds de recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC). Dans le ventre de la machine was awarded the Motus Prize at the 4th Destellos Electroacoustic Composition Competition (Mar Del Plata, Argentina, 2011).

  • Instrumentation: 5.1-track tape
  • Composer(s): Nicolas Bernier
  • Year composed: 2010-11
  • Premiere: November 7, 2011, Concierto de música electroacústica, Auditorio Noel Werthein — Instituto de Tecnología ORT, Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • ISWC: T9110482434
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISRC: CAD501210007