Issue 10: Dromos

By Daniel Emmerson

Whatever our musical persuasions might be, there is always something fascinating about feeling vulnerable at the hands of a composer. That can be found where the musicians in question use volume in a way that might be otherwise deemed unhealthy, or when the artist builds intensity through the use of silence amongst violent and abrasive tones. As far as Dromos is concerned, there are majestic, emotional responses to be had even when one is at the complete mercy of unpredictable, yet tantalizing variations in immersive, physical experience. The environment that Mathieu Le Sourd and Eric Raynaud create together is a combination of the most exasperating visual technology and a real-time soundtrack that acts as both a trigger and a response for what happens all around their audience. The effect is one that is one like no other, and as Raynaud prepares on his next project for Institut Français, now seemed like the ideal time to catch up with him and discuss his involvement with Dromos.

The space within each Dromos performance seems critical; your audience is completely surrounded by audio and visual compositions during the performance. Yet you recently divulged an interest in further enhancing sound immersion through architecture. How do you intend to take that forward?

Architecture and sound immersion have a common playground: 3d space. When you spatialize sound, you organize it as a 3D space component. You actually draw its motion, as you might draw a building wall; you adjust psycho acoustic parameters. In the 1950s, Stockhausen said that space in composition will be as important as melody and timbre, and not only was he putting a spin on the thoughts of John Cage, but he provided a clue as to the visionary composer he was; some clues for a new paradigm in music composition. Unfortunately, I think we lost our way at some point, maybe because Stockausen was so far ahead of his time. It also required quite a lot of technical gear for that period.

Xenakis also concretized the obvious connection that exists between sound and architecture. Working with Le Corbusier, he invented the audio visual performance, which is everywhere right now. I feel small in exploring this problematic area after these two key thinkers, but, I've to say that's on my mind all the time now. As listeners, we rarely have the opportunity to attend a performance with a complex sound/space architecture, and that's a pity because the technology is here, and it is a fantastic way to communicate differently with music and sound, then to connect them with other media.

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