Archive / mémoire (2017)

Commission: Productions SuperMusique, with support from the CALQ


  • page 1 (fr)
  • page 2 (fr)
  • page 3 (fr)
  • page 1 (en)
  • page 2 (en)
  • page 3 (en)

Programme notes

Archive / mémoire is the product of my desire to furnish Ensemble SuperMusique, dedicated as it is to playing unconventional scores, with a kind of ‘notation’ it has not previously confronted. It stems from my fascination with — and desire to question — the distinction that states in simplified terms that a composition can be repeated while an improvisation, on some fundamental level, cannot. The players onstage have been given their ‘parts’ consisting of three brief excerpts of their own improvisations on various Ambiances Magnétiques recordings (ranging, in sum, from 1984 to 2016). During the piece, they are invited to reproduce this material on their instruments, and also to create new improvisations. While most scores serve as a memory-device to help enact the composer’s ideas in sound, and most recordings serve as an archive of those enacted ideas, Archive / mémoire unsettles this distinction. Here, the enacted musical ideas are reproductions of reproductions of the players themselves; the archive of recorded improvisations is thus transformed into repeatable compositions that demand various kinds of memory — sound memory, muscle memory, various transcription and mnemonic methods — in their execution. Meanwhile, as the players are playing their parts, Michel F Côté and I will be diffusing the source samples in the space, activating the archive as generative musical material (with a nod to pioneers in this field, from John Cage to Grandmaster Flash), and perhaps activating the memory of listeners who have heard the ‘same’ material, in a radically decontextualized form, emanating from the stage. Archive / mémoire is an open structure that depends on the real-time creative decision-making of the Ensemble members. Thus, each version is essentially an improvisation, never to be repeated.

Scott Thomson [ii-17]