Le Cabinet des Signes

for eight players and live electronics (2010)

Staubach Honorarium commission for Ensemble Cairn, Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt, 2010. (Picc/Bfl, Bcl, Saxes, Perc, Pno, Vln, Vla, Vc)

I can also — though in no way claiming to represent or analyze reality itself […] — isolate somewhere in the world (faraway) a certain number of features […], and out of these features deliberately form a system. It is this system which I shall call: Japan. —Roland Barthes, tr. Richard Howard, L’Empire des Signes

A layover in Tokyo inspired a day’s walk to collect field recordings around the city’s streets, parks, and coffee shops.  A sign system as artificial as that described by Barthes, these recordings are arranged into a sonic map of the city with timbral features as a guide.  The amplified ensemble, augmented by birdcalls, whistles, bicycle bell, beer bottle, house keys, and other traces of everyday life, complements the field recordings with acoustic transcriptions and live electronic treatments.   A micro-dramaturgy of dense textures immerses the listener in an ambient space at the threshold between concert stage and sound installation.