Sheng! L'orgue à bouche - 19th seminar
Forest of bamboos - Sum and difference
avec Julie Zhu (Stanford University), Alexis Baskind (musician, sound engineer and RIM) and Wu Wei (musician of sheng)
For the vast majority of studio or concert productions, the sheng (like most instruments) is usually presented as an external sound object to the listener, i.e. a sound source, typically positioned at the front, with a given width and distance, placed in a real or virtual space.
In order to explore and present the sheng in a new way, “A Bamboo Forest: The 37-pipe sheng presented from the inside”, born from empirical research between Wu Wei and Alexis Baskind, proposes a reversal of perspective. It places the listener metaphorically inside the sheng, surrounded by the pipes, in a way similar to the image of “forest of pipes” sometimes used for the church organ. This idea, which for the organ may be technically easier (though still complex) to implement, poses significant challenges for the sheng because of the size of the instrument and the radiation of the pipes (mostly directed outside of the instrument). It is therefore necessary to look for alternative methods of designing a microphone system to overcome these difficulties.
The multidisciplinary project “Forêt de Bambous” takes place in several steps between 2020 and 2024. This year in 2023, we will present the second step of research and creation of a new work by Julie Zhu commissioned by Radio France for "Création Mondiale" (production: Anne Montaron). The work will be supported particularly by GMEM-CNCM-Marseille for ten days of residency for the period of production in March 2023.
Challenges, doubts, perspectives
with Joël Bons on intercultural composition and working with the Atlas Ensemble
In 2002 Joël Bons founded the Atlas Ensemble, an intercultural chamber orchestra uniting brilliant musicians from China, Japan, India, Central Asia, the Near East and Europe. The ensemble presents an unheard sound world of instruments from different cultures. Bons will talk about working for 20 years with these musicians and instruments and about the new possibilities that such a combination opens up for colour, orchestration and a different music practice. He will also share the various issues, doubts, perspectives involved of such an adventurous and challenging collaboration.
Especially for this event, Joël Bons will explain the compositional strategies he has used while writing for sheng and sho in his works Tour à Tour and Nomaden. In Tour à Tour he explored the rich chord formations that the sheng has to offer. Duel in Nomaden is a fiercely barking conversation between cello and sheng. The sho, with its 17 bamboo pipes, is more limited than the 38-pipe sheng and must be approached with care. Therefore, Bons based the sho solo in Nomaden on unusual but practical fingerings for the sho. In the same work, the sheng and sho, together with the other winds, create a gigantic swelling chord that opens up vistas for the large Atlas project that Bons will be working on the coming three years: the Atlas Orchestra.