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Bucolic & Broken

Pierre Alexandre Tremblay

Programme notes

This piece is an ode to the fragile beauty of post-industrial rural England: crumbling in this Brexit era (since way before, some might say) yet still holding together by some strange magic, or by force of habit. It is a sonic commentary on my new home, the North, which is in fact in the middle of the island that forms most of the country in which I settled with my family many years ago: a divided kingdom.

It is a sort of anxious love song contemplating the area’s bucolic beauty, with its protected moors, its omnipresent stone walls dividing minuscule allotments, its fashionably converted factories, its refreshing replanted forests; all intermingled with mementos of a more prosperous era: the unkempt gardens, the ash-stained walls, the many broken windows (when not actually bricked up), the closed shops in cheap architectural atrocities… On the one hand, the orange colour of the sunlight gives to nature’s greenery a pictorial shade; on the other hand, the frequent cloud ceiling mixes everything into a soup of brown and grey.

It is also an affectionate nod to its people, with their resilience, composure, and stoicism, where a cup of tea seems to put everything into perspective. Anywhere else, such a division would create chaos and unrest. Here, it seems as though everyone is taking a deep breath, pausing to observe the waters, before taking the plunge.


Bucolic & Broken was realized from October 2016 to April 2017 in the SPIRAL (Spatialisation and Interactive Research Lab) of the University of Huddersfield (England, UK) and in the Studio 3 (hemisphere) of Notam (Olso, Norway), with a testing session in the spherical studio of the University of Hull (England, UK). The work premiered on April 29, 2017 during the BEAST FEaST festival in Birmingham (England, UK). The 5.1 version was realized in 2021. Thanks to Scott Wilson and Annie Mahtani at BEAST for their trust; to Jörn Nettingsmeier and Anders Tveit for sharing their real-life ambisonic knowledge; to Anne Sèdes and Pierre Guillot for the Université Paris 8 (France) HOA tools; to Alex Harker for his support through the Creative Coding Lab; to Notto Thelle, Thom Johansen, Cato Langnes, and Jøran Rudi for making the Notam residencies so fruitful; to Robert Normandeau for the GRIS support; to Robert Mackay and Matt Barnard for the University of Hull studio residency; and to Fabian Brinkmann for the custom HRTFs.


  • April 29, 2017, BEAST FEaST 2017: Concert 7, Elgar Concert Hall — Bramall Music Building — University of Birmingham, Birmingham (England, UK)
  • Composer(s): Pierre Alexandre Tremblay
  • Year of composition: 2016-17
  • Instrumentation: 28-channel fixed medium
  • ISWC: T3073840189
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Duration: 12:32
  • ISRC: CAD502110043