Expansion (2021, 15 min) is a piece for amplified ice blocks and sound spatialization, commissioned and performed by Architek Percussion. The work is an immersive performance combining sound and sculpture, where ice blocks are used as sound instruments. The goal is to highlight the physicality of sound, inviting the audience to immerse themselves in this sonic material. Each of the four percussionists plays a block of ice, using various instruments such as chopsticks, guiros, sandpaper and saws. The diversity of the sounds created depends as much on the physical characteristics of the objects, such as the spacing of the teeth of a saw, as on the playing techniques, such as the pressure and speed of the rubbing. I developed a notation system for the playing techniques and made a video score to guide the performers. Hydrophones, frozen in the ice blocks, amplify sounds, which are played through a three-dimensional speaker system. These sounds, because of their rich and unpredictable spectrum, can be easily located. The position and movement of the sounds are directly related to those of the performers: their physical gestures are amplified through sound trajectories that extend their gestural expression into space. For example, a forward/backward motion of a saw on a block of ice creates a sound trajectory of the same type that propagates throughout the concert hall.

Expansion is also a real-time sculpture performance. The ice blocks, initially in parallelepiped forms, evolve throughout the performance. The artists’ actions sculpt them, culminating in a finale where boiling water meets ice, creating unpredictable shapes and sounds. These sounds are spatialized through slow rotations immersing the audience in an uncontrollable sonic storm.
The title of the work refers to the expansion in volume of water when it freezes. The intention is to evoke the bonds and behaviours of molecules in different states of matter, imagining a parallel with the bonds and behaviours that may characterize human relationships and the relationships between people and nature. With Expansion, I continue to explore the theme of tension between humans’ desire for control and the unpredictability of natural events, using ice, a material with unpredictable sonic, physical, and visual behaviour. This is a theme that characterizes other works of mine.

The work was composed in the multichannel music studios at the University of Montréal.

Expansion was premiered on December 2, 2021, by Architek Percussion at the “Project Object II” concert as part of the Live@CIRMMT series at the Multi-Media Room (MMR), McGill University, Montreal (Canada).

Architek Percussion :

Noam Bierstone
Ben Duinker
Alexander Haupt
Alessandro Valiante

CIRMMT team / Équipe du CIRMMT

Directeur / Director
Fabrice Marandola

Directeur associé, recherche artistique / Associate Director, Artistic Research
Philippe-Aubert Gauthier

Directeur associé, recherche scientifique et technologique / Associate Director, Scientific & Technological Research
Rachel Bouserhal

Responsable technique et systèmes / Systems and Technical Manager
Julien Boissinot

Technicien électronique / Electronics Coordinator
Yves Méthot

Responsable de Production / Production Manager
Sylvain Pohu

Administratrice du centre de recherche / Research Centre Administrator
Jacqueline Bednar

Coordinateur des conférences et des événements spéciaux / Conferences & Special Events Coordinator
Darko Dimitrijevic

I wish to thank Architek Percussion, CIRMMT, FRQSC et and the Faculté de musique de l’Université de Montréal.

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