Compositions

Portfolio

Compositions

Below is a selection of pieces that Mathieu has composed over the years.

Tags: Current, acousmatic, multichannel

This is a new commission given to me by New Music Composer’s Group Norway (Ny Musikk Komponistgruppe) for a new multichannel piece to be played in several different venues in Norway in 2021.

The piece is my reaction to the current greed we have been seeing the last few years, and even more during the covid crisis from organizations such as NHO here in Norway.

Tags: French horn, multichannel, electronics

“Stadig fjernare, bort. Fjernare og stadig nærmere” is a phrase coined by the fantastic Norwegian author Jon Fosse. This is a commission from the Canadian musician Gabriel Trottier as part of his doctoral project. The piece is to be premiered in late 2020/early 2021 in Montreal, Canada. It will also be played in Norway, and possibly other countries/cities.

Tags: piano, electronics, ecosystem

Coming soon…

Tags: Dasein, ensemble, chamber, electronics

This is a commission from Dasein Ensemble in Swedish which will be played in several Norwegian cities in 2020.

The piece is based on several cycles which are destroyed and degraded. The live electronics play an important role in these piece, moving many of the formal aspects from formal to abstract.

”Where in life we do everything we can to avoid anxiety, in art we must pursue it” -Morton Feldman

Score: to be published by NB Noter

Tags: ensemble, chamber, multichannel, electronics

Ensemble piece commissioned by Trondheim Sinfonietta in 2019. It was premiered as the opening concert for Scandinavia’s largest contemporary arts & technology festival, Meta.Morf.

The following text was written for Meta.Morf festival to explain this piece in relation to the festival’s theme of “digital wild”:

Using the latest technology does not make music modern or even part of the digital wild. The problems we face today are not as much on the technological side, but about how we address aesthetic issues. How does the use of this technology change the poietic process? From there, we can also look at the aesthesis of the work of art created. With the speed at which technology has evolved – especially in the last few years – we seem to have a collective amnesia that many of these musical and artistic issues were already raised in the 1960’s and 70’s. The technology (and its speed) has changed, but the poietics and aesthetic questions have stayed the same. Perhaps it is time we try to answer them?

Another important aspect is humanity (and/ or transhumanity). What does humanity mean in music, and connected to this, what is contemporary? The Italian composer Fausto Romitelli wrote that a composer is modern when she is reflecting on language as a fundamental of her composing. Humanity is imperfection, small interpretational changes and that the music reflects on our nature and environments. Music (and art) cannot reflect upon the human condition if it is only beautiful, only ugly, only conceptual, only sensual, only composed, only improvised, etc.

The music you will hear, reflects on all these aspects and takes inspiration from several phenomena connected to black holes and quantum physics. It is not meant purely conceptually, nor is it program music. It sits somewhere in between, as our nature is never exactly here, or there. Some musical parameters are taken and mapped directly from astrophysics research, but they do not illustrate in any way how a quasar would sound or move.

The twelve musicians on stage give us the human aspect. They will (probably) make mistakes, their tempi will not be perfect but these are human elements which make it worth listening to. The electronics will be here and there. An array of speakers around the audience will let you travel into the murky and cold space of the digital wild.

Speakers on the stage will form the avatar of the instrumentalists in this brave new world. At the heart of this music lies the dichotomy of human and electronic possibilities, the heart of the digital wild and all its kinky possibilities. The musicians play mainly through-composed music, with a few exceptions of open sections. The processes used in the writing for acoustic instruments have then often been transferred to computer programs which will use these processes further in real- time to create the electronics based on how the musicians are playing and interpreting the music. The electronics do not truly come to life without the presence of the human in music.

These possibilities for hybrid ecologies between electroacoustic and acoustic have interested me for many years. I feel that they are of our times, showing both the real and unreal. It shows us a hybrid in the same way as transhumanism. In essence, it shows us the possibilities and limits of our future.

 

Score: To be published by NB Noter

Tags: piano, electronics

This is a solo piano piece inspired by Bruno Latour’s book of the same name, and his general philosophy. The piece was written at Musique et recherches while studying with Hans Tutschku and Jaime Reis in 2019. It was premiered in Belgium in August 2019 by the fantastic pianist Ana Claudia Assis.

Score: to be published by NB Noter

Tags: flute, solo, electronics

Northern Star is based on a civil war era poem. The piece was written in 2018 and then workshopped and premiered by the assistant professor in flute Trine Knutsen in 2019-2020.

This piece won the Taceti(i) Ensemble Call for Works Prize in 2020.

Score: to be published by NB Noter

Tags: oboe, solo, electronics

Suspended Mirrors is a piece for solo oboe and electronics with an octagonal speaker set-up which was commissioned by Veronica Isabelle Stubberud for her bachelor’s examination in Aarhus. I had come up with an idea of what a soloist plays being sent around the public by using an eight speaker array. This was the basic premise of the composition, and I was lucky enough to have had some experience with an eight speaker set-ups, once in a school concert with Natasha Barrett at Rockheim in November 2014, and another concert with Nils Henrik Asheim and a few other musicians in Klæbu Kirke in March 2015. These two concerts had given me enough experience using SPAT for spatialization that I understood what was possible creatively.

The main compositional material for the piece is  based on three elements: multiphonics, circular breathing (ie long notes) and space. As the oboist plays notes in most sections, the note (and all previous notes as part of that harmony) are repeated and move around the speaker array, exploring the space surrounding the musician as well as harmonically accompanying what the oboist is playing. By doing this the electronics play the role of accompaniment, addition and transformation at the same time that it anchors the piece in its form and harmony while adding something new that could not be achieved by the solo musician (exploring the space). Although the electronics play perhaps the biggest part of the poetics of the piece, it is still clearly within the centripetal model as it is still the performer that is the center of attention and everything in the electronics is done in relation to how the performer is playing.

Since the piece was to explore space and how it relates to the performer, it only seemed natural to use ambisonics as it allows for more envelopment and a clear 3D sound such as described in Barrett (2010). If the piece had been in stereo or other more “locked” multichannel encodings, then I do not think the piece would have worked as well. The encoding was done inside of SPAT and uses HOA2D of the third order (limited by 2n+2 for a horizontal array where n represents the order, Ibid.). The use of the HOA2D encoding made it easier for me to also give the illusion of a space.

In this piece, it felt important to go away from traditional bar notation with a time signature. There are no bars, only a few ticks to notate where harmony changes, and when section changes. The soloist is free to take his or her time as he or she sees fit to create the proper atmosphere. The writing is also far from being the typical virtuosic instrumentation that a final examination concert would normally have, but performing all of these multiphonics one after the other is actually incredibly taxing on the performer. As the composer Hans Peter Stubbe Teglbjærg remarked after hearing the piece at the premier, it is in many ways a study on the use of space in a room around a musician.

The main elements of processing within the piece are spatialization of sound and some extra colouring through the use of a short delay. The delay is a stereo delay called Timeless 2 by FabFilter which is connected to pairs of the output speakers, all of the pairs being processed exactly the same way. Although this should negatively affect the spatial organization of the pieces, while testing it out I found it to be a very pleasing sound. The eight speakers are completely decorrelated, using the delay in small portions created an interesting parallel movement throughout the array giving a new breath to the work. In many ways, the delay destroys part of the spatialization done within SPAT, but as Lossius (2007) notes, it is possible to have very interesting effects and still have a better resolution than just normal stereo while damaging the spatialization that was created. The delay was originally added because of problems faced during the rehearsals which will be explained in the next section. In the final version of the MaxMSP patch as presented in this project, the delay system is made by myself and uses small delay time differences between the speakers to create additional movement within the composition.

Schematics of the MaxMSP patch

Recorded at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Aarhus with Veronica Isabelle Stubberud in March 2016. Recording, editing, mixing and mastering done by Mathieu Lacroix in 2016. This recording is a binaural reduction of the piece, therefore it should be listened to with headphones. An example of the movement in the piece can be seen here:

Score Availability: Available from NB Noter


Recording:


Tags: bass, electronics

Info coming

Tags: oboe, solo, electronics

Anomie is a solo piano piece with electronics commission by Bahareh Ahmadi. The piece is meant to be very easy to play for people that are not used to play with electronics. The pianist places two small speakers inside the piano to create an acoustic-like resonance. The electronics are triggered with a MIDI pedal and adapt to how the pianist is playing.

Score: Available from NB Noter

Tags: violin, cello

This is a piece written for two musicians of Ensemble TM+ as part of the Mixtur 2019 festival. The piece is inspired by the current ecological crisis. The musicians wear sensors on their hands which can trigger samples from nature.

Score: to be published

Tags: piano, solo, electronics

This piano composition is based on four different concepts which use several basic points of the producer/composer in how the composition is inherently connected to the electronics. The first concept was using overtones on a single note to form a scale. When I wrote this piece, I had just started reading on spectralism and I therefore set off to try it out. Unlike Grisey and Murail, I did not analyze acoustic phenomena. I looked at the overtones of an A440, made a scale derived from them and then I note possible non-harmonic notes to use. The composition also progresses in that over time I’ve added more notes that do not exactly fit in the overtone series of A440.

The second concept in the piece is the use of other musical parameters to organize the structure of the piece instead of just harmony and especially functional harmony. Boulez, Jodblowski and Saariaho have written extensively about this. There is no functional harmony because of the use of the overtones which forced me to use other means of tension and release to structure the piece. This varies from using notes that don’t completely fit in the overtones to having quicker or slower changes in what is done in the electronics.

The third concept is the idea of perceptual feedback. I wanted the musician to react to what the electronics are doing, at the same time as the electronics would react to what the musician is played. The musician is going to play the score reacting to the electronics coming out (of the previous section in the piece). The electronics in many ways provide the background for the pianist, weaving a harmonic tapestry that he/she plays over. Everything that the pianist plays will then be a part of the electronics.

The fourth and final concept is having macro and micro structures in the piece which is heavily inspired by the writings of Curtis Roads. The macro structure is the actual composition while the micro are the recorded buffers which are played back at a much slower speed. What was interesting about these recordings is also how different an instrument like the piano sounds when it is slowed down over ten times times with a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. A vibrating piano string can start almost sounding like a violin playing a very slow glissando. The textures that come out of it are incredibly interesting and they give another dimension to the solo instrument. The idea was to make the listener more aware of all the different components of a piano’s sound, instead of thinking of it as “the sound from a piano”.

In many ways, “Studie I” proves that a very simple signal chain and concept can form an interesting and multifaceted work that is both pleasing to listeners, the composer and the musicians that have played it. Time stretching a single instrument as main spectromorphological gesture is an interesting technique as well as something that can easily be exploited in different contexts. It’s a piece that could not be written by anyone else than a producer/composer even though the programming is very simple. Because of the piece’s centrifugal elements, synchronizing the acoustic instrument with the electronics is also not an issue.

MaxMSP schematics

Recorded in concert in 2015 by Øystein Hansen Marker & in 2016 by Maren Barlien, both times at NTNU. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. 

Score Availability: Available from NB Noter


Recording:

Tags: cello, solo, electronics

“Studie II” is for solo cello and electronics and the piece was written during the summer of 2015 and revised in late 2015. The piece is more virtuosic than “Studie I”, and the performer is in the role of a traditional soloist. The first concept for this composition was to use a tone as an anchor for the piece. At first the tone is a G, and then a melody comes along being played as double stops physically by the cellist. Later on in the piece, the tones that are presented in new sections will then be played by the electronics as they’re not necessarily possible to play as a double stop. The point with this was to set a physical gesture as a compositional point as explored by Jodblowski. When the same concept returns it is played by the electronics but the listener should still have that picture of a single physical gesture giving it meaning as well as bringing the piece closer to the centripetal model meaning that there is a clear causal relationship.

The electronics here play a much more active and almost contrapuntal role than in “Studie I”. In addition to the electronic notes, the electronics include a spectral delay and distortion. These electronic processes and the use of bow overpressure are the main elements that contribute a narrative form with tension/release instead of functional harmony. Originally, I had thought of using saturation instead of distortion, but I found out by practicing with cellists that the output of the saturation plug-ins was often still too clean, and not noisy enough for what I imagined.

The electronics were also meant to be much more actively used although this idea was later abandoned as explained in the first concert section. One of the more interesting aspects of this piece is that the electronics are partly fixed media (the tones that are played), yet there is also a lot of live processing. The electronics’ role varies throughout the piece sometimes being coequal, causal or an extension of the instrument (Frengel, 2010). Because of how tightly synced and connected the acoustics and electroacoustics are, I believe that this piece is perhaps the one where the blend between both worlds is best approached.

The scalar and thematic material is once again taken from overtones of several notes, but the writing is far from being anything close to spectralism, and was just used to have an abnormal scale. Extended techniques such as flautando, bow overpressure and changes between sul ponticello and sul tasto were also first tested in this piece. These techniques became a mainstay of my writing for string instruments after this composition. The inspiration of these techniques comes primarily from the solo cello piece “Petals” (1988) by Kaija Saariaho which I had analyzed over the summer as well as Brian Ferneyhough’s writings.

MaxMSP schematics. 

Recorded with Astri Hoffmann-Tollaas at NTNU in Spring 2016. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. 

Score Availability: Available from NB Noter


Recording:

Tags: cello, solo, electronics

“Studie III” is a composition once again for solo cello and for electronics. It was written a very short period after “Studie II” in the summer of 2015 and it is a continuation of my evolution in writing more virtuosic pieces for a specific instrument. The conceptual aspect of this piece was to look closely at the small pitch discrepancies between notes during several glissandi. Throughout the piece there are often several glissandi at the same time (mostly electronic but sometimes electronic against acoustic) and what interests me is what is between every note, how clusters are formed. Some of the glissandi are also slowed down, so the aspect of microsounds (as defined by Curtis Roads) also comes into play, although on a much smaller scale than in “Studie I”.

Ligeti has used a similar concept in “Atmosphères” (1961) as well as Penderecki in his “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima” (1960). However, I had actually gotten the idea from an analysis of Saariaho’s “Nymphéas” (1987). At the start of the piece which is focused on the tone A, the inner parts start to play D# which forms a symmetrical tritone above and bellow the initial A. This sparked my interest in how it would sound with glissandi shifting from one tone, to two tones a tritone apart from the first one, and then back again.

The writing is even more virtuosic than in “Studie II”, and the presence of extended techniques such as bow overpressure once again plays a role. The overpressure is used here mostly to accentuate the narrative of the first half of the piece, and it also plays in into the aspect of tonal sounds against noise. At what point do the glissandi and bowing sounds stop being tonal and are pure noise? What is between what some would consider noise and tonal sounds is what was interesting to me during the composition of the piece.

During the writing of the piece I had also thought of including a delay but I was unsure of how well it would fit. However, during a slight re-writing in early 2016 before recordings and rehearsals, I thought that the spectral delay I had designed for “Studie II” could be a starting point, modifying it slightly and adding a traditional delay system with feedback and crosstalk between two channels.

The glissandi which are played back electronically are not meant to sound as an acoustic cello would. The electronics here are meant to sound different than the cello. However, because of the start of the piece (in a concert situation at least), the audience can clearly see the gesture of the glissando which will then be repeated in several different ways during the piece, allowing them to make a connection between what was played and what is heard throughout the piece. The glissandi part sound mostly like a backdrop (as defined in but the delay and reverb function mainly as a possible extension or accentuation.

MaxMSP schematics

Recorded with Astri Hoffmann-Tollaas at NTNU in Spring 2016. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. 

Score Availability: Available from NB Noter


Recording:


Tags: violin, solo, electronics

Info soon….

Tags: oboe, solo, electronics

A short string quartet with electronics. This was composed as a piece to introduce a string quartet to using electronics, hence the very simple use of the electronics to enhance the quartet’s timbre.

Score: Available from NB Noter

Tags: choir, electronics “Solace” is a piece that was inspired by a section of John Adams’ (2008) biography in which he mentions making a concert of surround choir music based on Renaissance chants with some of his early students. This was the original inspiration for the piece, although I also wanted to write something with very contemporary harmony and I therefore started sketching a composition. The piece is for a pre-recorded choir, electronics and played on an eight channel ambisonics set-up just like “Suspended Mirrors”. The reason for using a pre-recorded choir were three-fold. Firstly spatializing a choir standing in front of a crowd would be rather difficult and quickly create spatial dissonance which is not what I want. Secondly, if I was to place the choir around the room, it would require a relatively bigger room than the one in which I knew it was going to be presented. Thirdly the scheduling and economic situation with the Kammerkoret Aurum would never have even given me the chance to have a live concert with them. After finding several poems by Quebec’s Émile Nelligan (1879-1841), I started writing. The first movement is a nudge to the original inspiration by Adams. The piece starts almost like Renaissance chant before quickly becoming very polyphonic and line based, and using contemporary harmony, especially the concept of vagrant chords as defined by Schoenberg (2010). As I was writing the piece I had also planned that the electronics would first be subtle and become more and more present especially in the B section of the piece. Towards the end the harmony would become once again more traditional and resemble Renaissance chant. The second movement was to be much more experimental and was separated into a second movement, and an addendum. The addendum was to be recorded separately and then used in the background of the second movement, time-stretched to make a harmonic blanket of sound which was tuned to the harmony of each section in the movement. The harmonies are once again derived from the spectrum of certain notes, and the harmony is very tight often arriving chords based on seconds. Originally the second movement was much longer, but I had cut it down to be more accommodating for the choir. The pauses in the notation of the choir also allow a certain leeway for improvisation with the electronics creating an interpretation. The third movement was based more on the intervals within the lines than any specific type of harmony. Some of Schoenberg’s atonal techniques are also used on something that is in the far reaches of tonality. The piece is also available as purely acousmatic in ambisonics format for any dome. Written for the award-winning Kammerkoret Aurum Recorded at several locations, each group separately during the Spring of 2016 in Trondheim, Norway. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. The recorded is a binaural reduction of the piece which is originally for an octogonal ambisonics set-up. Listen to it with headphones! Score Availability: On loan from composer

Tags:solo, electronics

This piece is an open composition that was created to test out the possibilities of algorithmic and open compositions with score following.

Electronics: Coming soon

Info soon…

Tags: piano, solo “In Sleep” is a piece for solo acoustic piano and based on the use of two hexachords to use all twelve tones in the chromatic scale. In this case, the two hexachords are based on the two whole-tone scales which are often quickly changed through the composition. In many ways, as I was writing the compositions I was writing it for specific effects which can’t necessarily be only done acoustically. The writing is meant to invoke the idea of sleep, and even though there are several quick figures they are meant to be recorded a bit more distant than normally (although still inside the piano lid) to have a specific foggy sound which can’t be replicated by only using a dense reverb. Also, although some of the intervals played (such as in the A section) are quite dissonant, they are meant to be played in a smooth way which softens the tone. Both being perfect examples of thinking in “sound” instead of just “notes”. Recorded with Maren Barlien at the piano at NTNU in the Spring of 2016. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. Score Availability: Available from NB Noter Recording:

Tags: violin, duo

À deux is a short work for two violins inspired by Bartók’s works for the same medium. In this work the timbre differences between two violins is explored fully as one plays with a mute. Extended techniques that colour the instrument’s timbre is fully explored, effectively being a short study on timbral inflections of the violin. 

Score Availability: Available from NB Noter

Tags: piano, solo A solo piano composition I have written while studying under Ståle Kleiberg. The composition is based on the concept of having a small kernel that is then developed into something that becomes longer over time. In many ways the piece is quite similar to Brian Eno’s idea of ambient music and Erik Satie’s furniture music. However, unlike their music there is a strong rhythmical ostinato in the bass which is to be played loudly so that it sounds as if someone else is playing it, in many ways a dialogue between the mythic nephilim and gargoyles.  The way the piece is written is intrinsically related to how it would be produced sound-wise. In this case for example, the extra reverb on the Cs is something that would never be done in conventional classical music recordings as it would not be “truthful” to how it would sound in a concert room. However, it helps show the poetry of the piece and helps the counterpoint between what is happening in the upper frequencies with that in the lower frequencies (in effect, the nephilim and the gargoyles). Recorded with Maren Barlien at the piano at NTNU in the Spring of 2016. Recorded, edited, mixed and mastered by Mathieu Lacroix. Score Availability: Currently Not Available Recording: Here…

Info coming soon…

Tags: piano, solo, electronics

Originally written for solo piano exploring systematic compositions, The Bells became an acousmatic composition for 8 speakers in which the composition slowly moves between the sections without any preset durations. The composition is therefore different every time it is played, effectively having become an algorithmic composition programmed in MaxMSP. 

Score Availability: On demand

Jazz quartet written and recorded in 2014.