Melancholia

Robert Normandeau

Programme Notes

Melancholia

“Melancholy was first conceived as a disorder of the humours in Ancient Greece. It was elaborated by the first or best known physician Hippocrates and corresponds to what is now known in psychiatry as a depressed state, a feeling of incapacity, a lack of will or desire, a lack of taste for life, which, in the most serious cases, may lead to suicide. In a second phase, as medicine split from philosophy, the term was also taken up by the latter to characterize the existential musing of writers, poets and intellectuals.

Melancholy in the ancient sense allowed one to experience grief, to move past it or to find meaning in life, in other words, it was a passage in times of crisis (not always leading to a negative result). And that is where melancholy could overcome such states of sadness.

Melancholy can also be understood as a “sacred disease” which in Western culture has permeated all expressions of thought and art: philosophy, medicine, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, religion and theology, literature, music and the arts. Melancholy is a vector of fertility, lucidity, clairvoyance, but also paradoxically of despair. Jean Starobinski and Wolf Lepenies said that melancholy was a kind of “distancing” of consciousness when facing “disenchantment” with the world.” — Wikipedia (translated from French)

Melancholia has eight movements: black humour; nostalgia; anguish; boredom; reverie; anger; exhaustion; sadness. The only sound material of the piece comes from the bandoneon, typical instrument of Argentine tango. It is intended for a dome of loudspeakers.

[ix-17]


Melancholia was realized in June 2015 at the studio of Notam (Oslo, Norway), in 2016 in the Spiral Studio of Huddersfield University (UK), and was completed in March 2017 Bowling Green State University Electroacoustic Studios (Ohio, USA) during a Klingler ElectroAcoustic Residency (KEAR). It premiered on September 16, 2017 during the KEAR Multichannel Concert in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center of Bowling Green State University. Melancholia was revised and remixed in the summer 2018 at the composer’s studio in Montréal (Québec). The piece was commissioned by Notam (Oslo, Norway). Thanks to Jonathan Goldman for his playing and his bandoneon.


Premiere

  • September 16, 2017, KEAR Festival: KEAR Multichannel Concert, Kobacker Hall — Moore Musical Arts Center — Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green (Ohio, USA)

This version is a stereophonic reduction of the multitrack original realized in September 2018.

  • Instrumentation: 42-track fixed medium
  • Composer(s): Robert Normandeau
  • Year of composition: 2015-17, 18
  • Commission: Notam
  • ISRC: CAD501820003

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