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This piece is a commission by Ensemble de Musique Interactive, and was premiered by Szuhwa Wu and Rachel Gleize in March 2012 at Columbia University's Miller Theather.
Esprits-Animaux is intended as an homage to electric music in general, and a contradictory study on the concepts of saturation and distortion in music.
It takes its source, as a metaphor, with the “animal-spirits” image. This is an ancient medical and philosophical concept used to explain, in a “naive” way, the nervous system and the electric currents passing through it, necessary (but not sufficient) basis for the emergence of spirit. The image of an inert animal which, under the control of the current, is taken by violent convulsions and seems to come back to life, was used as an impulse for the piece itself and its development. The myth of Frankenstein and his creature is not so far… Those who, beyond the cinematic cliché, have read the original work of Mary Shelley, know that the initial shock of electrical energy, though it leads the creature to exaltation and savagery, also invites it ultimately to meditation and liberation.
The piece aims to recall such a torrent of primordial energy, and its various forms of “resonance”. The electronic part is mainly built upon “electric” sound materials, in a broader way, as well as real-time transformations of the instruments, referring to the characteristic distorded sound of rock, electronic or noise musics. The computer allows here a new way of writing the distortion, as a process, interpolating between different pre-defined sound "colors".
The computer also served to formalize the writing process of the score itself, through different techniques : chord spectralization, morphological analysis and musical transposition of non-musical materials, morphing, constraint-based systems,...
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