Below you will find an archive of past blog posts from the making of Arcanum 17 and the Arcanum 17 Canadian Tour in September, 2012.
Arcanum 17 Tour Finale and Beyond
With Reidemeister Move’s final performance at suddenlyLISTEN, Halifax on Monday, we announce the conclusion of the Arcanum 17 tour. In twelve days, Christopher Williams and Robin Hayward performed at six venues and in five cities across Canada. Audiences experienced the 45-minute multimedia composition Arcanum 17 by Christopher Williams and Charlie Morrow inside the immersive MorrowSound True 3D sound cube as well as the just-intoned, game-like Borromean Rings by Robin Hayward.
Following the tour, this blog will host audio and other media from the tour and the studio. It will also announce future stagings of Arcanum 17. For now we’re excited to share the below photos of Christopher Williams and Robin Hayward’s workshop at The University of Victoria’s School of Music on Saturday, September 8th:
Christopher Williams with the students of The University of Victoria’s School of Music
Students of the University of Victoria’s School of Music
Robin Hayward, Christopher Williams, and student
Arcanum 17 Canadian Tour: Week Two
Above you’ll find a picture from the world premiere of Arcanum 17 at The Western Front, Vancouver. Seated before the audience and with them inside the installed MorrowSound True 3D sound cube, the duo Reidemiester Move (contrabassist Christopher Williams and tubist Robin Hayward) perform the 45-minute amplification and transformation of André Breton’s novel Arcanum 17.
With last week’s three successful appearances at The Western Front, Vancouver, Open Space, Victoria, and The University of Victoria’s School of Music, we’re ecstatic to kick off this week with tonight’s performance at Neutral Ground, Regina. Attendees will have the great opportunity to experience both Arcanum 17 (2012) by Christopher Williams and Charlie Morrow and Borromean Rings (2011) by Robin Hayward (note: each title links to an audio excerpt). Later this week, Williams and Hayward will appear at Recontre de Musique Spontanée, Rimouski to perform Borromean Rings. Then it’s off to suddenlyLISTEN, Halifax on Monday, September 17 for the tour’s finale.
More audio of Arcanum 17 will become available as the tour progresses. For now, we’d like to offer you a closer look at the production team that made Arcanum 17 the dynamic, immersive musical experience that it is. Last week in our post “The Arcanum 17 Interview” you heard from composers and field recorders Christopher Williams and Charlie Morrow. Today you’ll find sound engineer Tyler Clausen and videographer/sound engineer Mike Harrison discussing their contributions to this project as well as past work with Charles Morrow Productions.
Tyler Clausen on Recording for MorrowSound True 3D
Mike Harrison on Videography and Audio Production
The Arcanum 17 World Premiere
Today we send off Arcanum 17 for its world premiere at The Western Front, Victoria with none other than…….
The Star, the seventeenth Major Arcanum card in traditional Tarot decks!
It’s no mystery that André Breton was channeling the healing and rejuvinating energies of this card when he wrote Arcanum 17 in Gaspé, Quebec at the height of World War II. Today’s premiere of Christopher Williams and Charlie Morrow’s multimedia composition Arcanum 17 fuses these energies with the sustained tones of contrabass and microtonal tuba and a blending of recorded voice and the sounds of Rocher Percé, l’Île de Bonaventure, and more. Performed inside a MorrowSound True 3D sound cube, Arcanum 17 will immerse listeners in a 45-minute journey through sound-space and time-space. More information about tonight’s 8pm performance at The Western Front, Vancouver can be found at front.bc.ca.
Along with Arcanum 17, the duo Reidemeister Move (Christopher Williams and Robin Hayward) will perform Borromean Rings (2011) by Robin Hayward. Combining just intonation and sustained tones with a paradoxical, game-like score, Borromean Rings challenges each player to, in the words of the composer, “explore continually fresh avenues within the harmonic framework and rhythmic, timbral and noise-based delineations laid out by the score.” See our earlier post “Borromean Rings by Robin Hayward” for a closer look at this piece.
Below you’ll find an excerpt of one interpretation of Borromean Rings, as well as the Arcanum 17 audio trailer. Enjoy!
Arcanum 17 Audio Trailer:
Borromean Rings (Excerpt):
The Arcanum 17 Interview
Composer/Performer Christopher Williams and Rocher Percé
Today we are excited to present you with segments of the Arcanum 17 interview. Here you will find insight into the project’s origins, histories of Rocher Percé, the composer’s considerations of perception and language, and the intricacies of composing for MorrowSound True 3D environments.
Conducted as a cell phone conference call between Barton, Vermont and San Francisco, California, the conversation explores compositional and production processes as well as anecdotes central to the translation of André Breton’s text into an immersive sound experience. Interlocutors include composers Christopher Williams and Charlie Morrow and sound poet Tom Comitta.
Christopher Williams on the Origins of Arcanum 17
Charlie Morrow on Perception and Composition for MorrowSound True 3D
Christopher Williams on Field Recording
Charlie Morrow on Translation/Transmutation
Charlie Morrow on What’s Next for Charles Morrow Productions
Borromean Rings by Robin Hayward
The score for Borromean Rings (2011)
During the September 2012 Canadian tour of Arcanum 17, the duo Reidemeister Move (Christopher Williams, double bass, and Robin Hayward, microtonal F tuba) will also perform Borromean Rings by Robin Hayward. Interpreting the above score, the duo will enact a sonic variation on the mathematical Borromean rings (link to Wikipedia) in which three rings exist in paradoxical relation to one another. To be complete, the three circles that compose a Borromean ring must be at once independent of each other, or unlinked, and dependent upon each other, or linked. To remove any one ring results in two unlinked rings, or broken Borromean rings.
In Hayward’s Borromean Rings this relation between rings is staged as an interplay between acoustic instruments and the space-time of performance. Hayward’s score notates a range of linked and unlinked relations and possibilities for double bass (ring 1) and microtonal F tuba (ring 2). The third ring might be seen as that ring activated in the site and duration of the performance — the acoustic, harmonic space in play with the instruments’ sounds and noises. In program notes for Borromean Rings, Hayward describes this composition’s relational interplays in terms of “the game”:
Performing Borromean Rings might be best compared to playing a board game such as chess. Notation is used to define a field of possible moves for navigating within harmonic space. Unlike chess however the idea is not to overcome the other player, but rather to challenge them to explore continually fresh avenues within the harmonic framework and rhythmic, timbral and noise-based delineations laid out by the score.
Below you can listen to an excerpt from one interpretation of Borromean Rings performed by Reidemeister Move:
Borromean Rings will be performed at The Western Front, Vancouver on Sept. 6; Open Space, Victoria on Sept. 7; University of Victoria’s School of Music on Sept. 8; Neutral Ground, Saskatchewan on Sept. 11; La Salle Desjardins-Telus, Rimouski on Sept. 14. At suddenlyLISTEN, Halifax on Sept. 17, Reidemeister Move will play a set of improvised music with prominent Halifax improvisers cellist Norman Adams and bassist Lukas Pearse.
Above you’ll find videographer Mike Harrison’s portrait of Rocher Percé and the Arcanum 17 field recording team in action. Recorded audio has been incorporated into the MorrowSound True 3D eight-speaker component of the Arcanum 17 composition. Live and as an installation, listeners will be able to experience this sound in an immersive sound bubble with sound moving above, below, and around.
You can hear some of these field recordings mixed with Christopher Williams’ contrabass and Robin Hayward’s microtonal tuba in the Arcanum 17 audio trailer. More audio and video will surface in the coming week with a feature on Robin Hayward’s composition Borromean Rings, part of the Arcanum 17 tour programming, and an interview with composers Chrisopher Williams and Charlie Morrow.
The Arcanum 17 Audio Trailer
Today we’re pleased to announce the release of the Arcanum 17 trailer in binaural 3D audio!
Employing a variation of the MorrowSound True 3D technology used in the live performance and installation of Arcanum 17, the 3D sound of this particular track is best experienced with headphones. Here you’ll find a sonic weaving of wildlife, seascape, Charlie Morrow’s voice, and Christopher Williams’ contrabass and Robin Hayward’s microtonal tuba droning in just intonation.
On tour, these sounds will be projected in an eight-speaker system that creates the illusion of expansive space around the listener. In this True 3D sound bubble, sound moves up and down, as well as around, allowing for magical and paradoxical connections to emerge between concrete geographies, abstract sonorities, and visionary concepts.
In live performance, you will find Chrisopher Williams and Robin Hayward further sculpting this soundscape with live instrumentation. At Vancouver, BC’s The Western Front, folks will also have the chance to experience Arcanum 17 as an immersive sound installation. Here Willliams’ and Hayward’s performances meet Morrow’s True 3D soundscape as pre-recorded audio, blending and moving with the field recordings, conch shells, and recorded voice.
For more sounds and sights of Arcanum 17, see our previous post Field Notes from Québec.
[Note: The above photo of Rocher Percé was taken by Mike Harrison.]
Field Notes from Québec
Today we kick off the Field Notes component of this blog with a multimedia report from Arcanum 17‘s field recording trip to Québec. Last weekend and through this week, composer Christopher Williams, sound engineer Tyler Clausen, and videographer Mike Harrison have been foraging for sounds around Gaspé, Rocher Percé, and l’Île de Bonaventure. Later this week, they’ll return to Charlie Morrow’s Barton, Vermont studio and incorporate these final recordings into the True 3D sound component of Arcanum 17.
Below you’ll find Mike Harrison’s video footage of the Québec excursion accompanied by Christopher Williams’ field notes. Here you’ll find the imagery and geography that inspired Andre Breton’s text. Once incorporated into True 3D, these landscapes will come to life between text and sound, landscape and soundscape. Stay tuned tomorrow for a first look at this sound with the release of the Arcanum 17 audio trailer!
For now, here are some notes for your eye-ear pleasure:
Arrival in Percé at sunset via the northern route from Rimouski. Morning visit to Rocher Percé at low tide: flocks of tourists wade out through the chips of the mammoth limestone and scurry back before the water rises. Listening to shale slide down the beach cliffs. Calm glippity gloops on the northern side, mildly pulsing waves with omnipresent boat motors on the south side. Flags and tall grass on Mont Jolie.
Early departure with the masses to l’Île de Bonaventure. No potable drinking water on the Island? Good thing we have Pit Caribou beer! Sentier de Mousses path: a gentle reprieve from circling boats. Whistling wind mistaken for wildlife. Then… gannets everywhere!!! The French call them “fou de bassans”, and believe us, they are nuts. Hurry back for the last boat to the mainland.
Breton’s digs in the summer of 1944: Maison Le Havre, 114 Route 132. Still standing.
Thanks for stopping by! Check back tomorrow for more Arcanum 17 audio!
If you’re in or near Vancouver, Victoria, Saskatchewan, or Halifax between September 6 and 17, you’ll have the great opportunity to experience Arcanum 17 in person. If you’re at a distance, not to worry — this blog will host and direct you to audio, video, artists’ notes from the road, and news as it develops. Taking the forms of concert, installation, and stereo recording for FM radio, this music offers a variety of engagements.
Arcanum 17 is a 45-minute, two-part multimedia composition for contrabass and tuba, text, and field recordings and a MorrowSound True 3D sound installation based on surrealist Andre Breton’s 1944 book of the same name. Here Breton sees “love and loss, aggression and war, pacifism, feminism and the occult” through the prism of Rocher Percé, a massive natural arc on the east coast of Quebec. Composer Christopher Williams has collaborated with composers Robin Hayward and Charlie Morrow to amplify and transform Breton’s imagery, bringing the text alive in an immersive musical environment. Around the metaphor of the crumbling Rocher Percé, sustained-tone music in just intonation and delicate noise will drift in and out of recorded wildlife, seascapes, and tourism from the Gaspé Peninsula.
Both performer and audience will be immersed within these sounds thanks to Charlie Morrow’s MorrowSound True 3D, a state-of-the-art modular sound spatialization system which projects sound from above and below the listener. True 3D creates the illusion of an expanded space where sound moves up and down, as well as around, allowing for magical and paradoxical connections to emerge between concrete geographies, abstract sonorities, and visionary concepts. At Vancouver’s The Western Front, folks will be able to experience Arcanum 17 as a live performance and as a 3d loudspeaker installation piece without live performers.
Every event, except for September 17th at Suddenly Listen, Halifax, includes a performance of Robin Hayward’s 40-minute composition Borromean Rings. A double-ringed colour-coded score provides the basis for the spontaneous exploration of harmonic space together with rhythmic, timbral and noise-based variations. This work will be performed by Reidemeister Move (Christopher Williams on contrabass and Robin Hayward on microtonal tuba). A duo dedicated to exploring and expanding the possibilities of sustained-tone music in just intonation for their instruments, Reidemeister Move’s performances are based purely on tuned intervals, noise, corporeal rhythms, and spatial resonance.