“In Pursuit of the Bourdon”

Published on 06 September 2016 - Updated 02 November 2016
Cet article date d'il y a plus de 7 ans

In the context of its artists’ residencies programme, La Colombière in Chênehutte-Trèves-Cunault (Gennes-Val de Loire) will be open for European Heritage Days on Saturday and Sunday 17 and 18 September 2016 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will be hosting an installation entitled “À la poursuite du bourdon” as well as sound performances (concert) on Saturday 17 September at 5 p.m. and Sunday 18 September at 4:30 p.m.

Alix Gastineau, the 2016 resident, graduated from Angers ESBA with a National Higher Diploma in Visual Expression (DNSP); he will be completing his training next year with post-graduate studies in “Art and Sound Creation” at the Bourges ENSA. 

The Fondation Marquise de Narros - Institut de France is legatee of “La Colombière”, a property on the banks of the Loire in the municipality of Gennes-Val-de-Loire. Artists’ residencies are organised there in partnership with Mission Val de Loire and the municipality, devoted to the theme of the Loire Valley’s cultural landscape and its representation. 

On this website:

“I’m a percussionist by training, and these days my interests focus on the events my activity can create, on the social dynamism fostered by concerts. Whether it takes the form of performance, installation or score, my work draws inspiration from the sound material provided by a context, a particular place, trying to give it a fictive dimension, a blind interpretation. 

The title of the event created for this end of residence, À la poursuite du bourdon, is suggestive of a number of themes. The word bourdon is not just the French for “bumblebee”, an insect that plays a key part in pollination, it also refers to music. From church bell to hurdy-gurdy strings via the drone pipes of various sorts of bagpipes, the bourdon evokes a sustained note, a continuous chord. 

It’s an endless loop that breaks away from present time, a cosmic music evoking the link uniting humankind and its environment. Although of natural origin, such organic sonority is also disseminated by artificial means. Machine engines imitate its cyclicity. The quest implied by the title is a search for acoustic phenomena present in the region. And it isn’t so much a goal that has to be reached as a journey to be remade through its final result. The finalised form of a sound composition broadcast in the exhibition venue. A composition created entirely from field recordings and disseminated in a loop into the surrounding area. At a given moment during the day, the composition will be modified live to update its organisation. 

A way of imposing a transitory character on the fixed state of things, so as to create a changing soundscape. 

Alongside the electroacoustic installation, the exhibition presents a cabinet of curiosities that serves as a record of objects found, modified or created during the residence period. Objects that were used as musical instruments and then recorded to be incorporated into the composition. The performances providing the event’s soundtrack will take possession of them in order to make use of their acoustic qualities. Activation of these artefacts can only lead to thought being given to their status, immobile and devitalised, taken out of their initial contexts to help create a sound experience symbolising their origin. 

In some ways, the bourdon is a kind of audible silence. The constant state of a sound that leaves room for other, more unpredictable sounds. To set off in search of it is also to set off in search of silence, or rather the absence of anything unexpected and too aggressive for the ears. It is to make a return to the unwonted tranquillity that certain places provide. Troglodyte households are among such places. Spaces often set deep underground, filling your ears with subterranean, almost silent music – that of the body in motion, the interaction of humankind and its habitat. A subtractive architecture paradoxical to the sound event developing within it as, once inside, you’re overtaken by an urge to shout out loud, to hear your voice echo and listen to each of the cavities dug out by a hand whose owner wanted somewhere to live. The recordings incorporated into the composition will evoke the pace of life so characteristic of troglodytes. Activities develop there, and sometimes discussions nourish a desire to find another way of seeing the world there. 

Bourdon’ is also the French name for a pastry made of apples and bread dough. When talking about music, you often use metaphors in order to simplify concepts that are sometimes rather too abstract.  

Cooking is the sort of music that everyone knows. Several analogies might be drawn between the two practices: basically, they are two human activities that both draw their flavours from the environment, effectively harmonising the guests attending their practice. This recipe will provide an opportunity to discover the required score.” 



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