soprano, clarinet, trombone, percussion, voice, viola and processing

At the invitation of Ars Nova Ensemble and Muse en circuit, it was proposed that I create a piece based on the theme of an aural landscape, more precisely that of the Paysage augmenté. In spite of numerous attempts to transcribe landscape into music, the notion of an aural landscape has never used up so much ink or generated so many works as in the 20th and 21st centuries. This notion of a soundscape reflecting the infinite range of sounds from our daily lives is revealed through the integration of sounds linked to the industrial revolution and through the usage of recording and sound transformation techniques. Following the example of hyperinstruments developed a few years ago by Tod Machover, the notion of Paysage augmenté contains the germ of a “meta landscape,” a vision altered by the reality which confronts us. When I commenced work on this project, I sought a poetic vision for inspiration, an aural universe where the simplicity of the words would translate into the brutality and violence that our society regularly faces. My starting point was Émile Verhaeren’s poem Les usines, excerpted from the collection: Les villes tentaculaires (1895). By metaphorically likening factories to monsters, Émile Verhaeren’s poem contains the melding of aggressive and oppressive atmosphere necessary for the realization of the piece. After a lengthy immersion in this universe, I developed a specific musical direction for the project. Some of the highlights include: A heavy metallic door opens, revealing a hostile universe in which deafening machines crush and grind away. In the midst of this apocalyptic landscape where Man seems to have totally vanished, comes a wanderer, a solitary traveler — represented by the viola — roaming like a stranger seeking an escape route. The text was exploited for its sonic potential. Fragments were selected for their suggestive power, representing the oppression and anxiety of Man facing the cold, mechanical machine universe. I extend my gratitude to Muse en Circuit, Centre national de création for commissioning this piece. It is dedicated to ensemble Ars Nova, for the energy, enthusiasm and conviction with which they imbue this music.