Black of the Star with Speak Percussion (2013)

By Gerard Grisey
Deakin Edge, Federation Square on 16 and 17 October 2013 as part of the Melbourne Festival.

This performance included new versions of the Vela pulsar supplied by George Hobbs (Astronomy and Space Science CSIRO), spatialisation and a new multi-channel recording. The pulsars are usually played over stereo speakers, however new spatialised versions were created and diffused over 16 channels.

To deal with acoustic issue and for recording purposes stereo microphones were placed over each percussion station. The microphone signal was fed to speakers both sides of each percussion station. This subtle enhancement to the local sound image of each player improved the direct sound for the audience. The combination of close microphones and surround speaker placement created a localised amplification for each performer without disrupting Grisey’s original and complex spatial motions of musical gestures exchanged around the ensemble.

These 12 microphones, a Sound Field and binaural dummy head microphones were used to make a 17 channel recording. By mixing between the direct and ambisonic microphones unique spatial perspectives can be created that reveal the technique of Grisey’s intricate spatial composition approach. The listener can occupy a vantage points not possible in performance, located from the middle of the venue to sitting amongst the players on a virtual sound stage.

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