Bestiaire

Roxanne Turcotte

Bestiaire has been performed in Brussels and Montréal…

Ten environmental divertimentos, intertwined, depicting a descriptive fresco of real and imaginary animals that several people have seen. Their story and a surprising language for your ear’s pleasure. Vocal interpretations of birds are analyzed and compared to human voices, and auditory perceptions are highlighted through spatialization organized in order to create a natural wildlife space and a near-realistic open-space musical aviary.

Since the beginning of time, animals are found everywhere in paintings, music, literature, and culture in general. Some imaginary beings seem to have real existence in this ethereal world. Birds memorize notes, species produce and perceive ultrasounds and infrasounds. A multitude of sound signals and rallying cries are being produced by very real means of production: beating wings, rubbing legs, quick shifts from bass to treble, and echolocation. Oddly, you think you’re hearing a water drop, a singing voice, a radio tuner, a harmonics sweep, Inuit songs, Pygmy songs, Burmese songs, vocal onomatopoeia. Through the combination of a few recorded sound sources, sea creatures with very wide spectrums seem to be creating musical phrases with specific rhythms (auditory illusion). Pure vocal interpretations. They display a power of communication and a range of emotions that we are only beginning to understand. Animals also display a form of solidarity through their mobilization. We love them because they bring us back to basics: the survival instinct.

My bestiary is a tribute to living beings. A story based on real-life events and fabulous experiences: winged singers and imitators gifted with perfect pitch; a laughing dog that thinks he is a cat on a kayak; almost-human squirrels; thinking crows; a pet monarch saved in extremis and quietly having breakfast with my daughter Fannie; the song of hungry coyotes; a “smoocher” parrot conversing in Spanish, exactly at 880 Hz. There are also a few anecdotes about the escapade of a parakeet drawn to the windowsill by the smell of fried eggs on a cold winter night; our little pond being taken over by frogs; tracking my parakeet Toupie gone on an unexpected four-day, twelve-kilometre free-range trip.

Several field recording sessions were necessary to gather as much sound samples as possible and build a sound bank. This was followed by long hours of sorting and micro-editing, only to keep the most essential bits in the end.

Sources of inspiration: Radio-Canada, Samedi et rien d’autre, June 7, 2008; Joël Le Bigot, Les animaux du Grand Nord, Éditions Auzou; Nav Canada (air traffic control of “human wings”); wild animal shelters; my adopted pets; Obelix’s Dogmatix; Gaston’s black-headed gull; Tintin’s Snowy; the bestiaries of Sonia Sarfati, Alfred Pellan, Serge Bouchard, Olivier Messiaen

[English translation: François Couture, iv-14]


Bestiaire [Bestiary] was realized in 2010-11 at the composer’s studio (Productions RTM) in Montréal. It awarded the 3rd place at the 2nd Prix collégien de musique contemporaine 2009-10 organized by the Cégep de Sherbrooke (Québec) in collaboration with the Centre de musique canadienne — Région du Québec. Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA).

Premiere

  • October 24, 2015, L’Espace du son 2015: Roxanne Turcotte, Théâtre Marni, Brussels (Belgium)

Awards

Details

Roxanne Turcotte, Bestiaire (2010-11, 14)
16-track fixed medium

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