DUO DES AIGUS
In 2006, I received a grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec to further explore the possibilities of the feedback device developed for the DUOS POUR CORPS ET INSTRUMENTS by choreographer Danièle Desnoyers. The goal was to create a work of approximately 50 minutes.
Two dancers and I recorded over 12 hours of improvisations in an empty gallery. The gallery’s squeaky wooden floor became a crucial element of the piece. I wanted the dancers to be heard. The noisy floor reflected the dancers’ movements and we heard their weight balancing as they improvised with their instrument. Not being in a performance situation enabled us to put in place several microphones without worrying about any of the gear showing. The dancers were free to experiment with sound without worrying about their posture or stage presence.
The result is a very minimal, meditative soundscape. This project was definitely more about me listening than editing. I listened to all the material recorded intensively to choose the best moments for the final work on CD. Everything was recorded in high resolution (at the time 96KhZ-24bits) in the hope that this level of quality would render the actual physical presence of the dancers in a more realistic and transparent way.
EXCERPTS FROM NOTEBOOK OF RECORDING PROCESS:
- When working with several microphones, always start the sound checks with speech (vocals): easier to hear the particular qualities of the space (dimension, absorbent-reflective surfaces) with this type of material.
- At the start of the recording sessions, the first takes are usually when the interpretation is best. However, the technical set up still needs to be fine-tuned. To find the optimal positioning of the microphones, more than one take is required. Ideally, the sound checks are to be done with “substitute interpreters” so the basic technical arrangement can be researched. In this case, when working with the real interpreters, the quality of the first take is optimal, both technically and artistically.
- Floor noises (squeaks) and foot noises … not interesting to hear. Seems like the dancers are searching, undecided, hesitating. These sounds are part of a different realm when I listen to the recordings of the feedback: long continuous tones. They are hard to integrate.
- The Schoeps couple in the XY configuration renders a realistic, transparent recording, especially when considering image representation and the frequency content. When listening at the OBORO studio, I realized that the Schoeps microphones in the MS configuration seem brighter, almost harsh (exaggerated in the high frequency range).
- It is important to minimize phase problems that may occur between several microphone positions during a recording process. Delay should be added to the microphones that are closer to the source during the mixing process. Next time, at the beginning of a take with many microphones, I will use a noise device that can make a loud short percussive sound (movie clapper). During the mixing process, it will be easier to synchronize all the recordings with a short percussive sound.
- When mixing all the sources, one must find the balance that reveals the interpretation in the truest, most authentic manner.
Excerpt from the choreography DUOS POUR CORPS ET INSTRUMENTS by Danièle Desnoyers that inspired the album:
3rd track of the DUO DES AIGUES album: