Reveillez-vous, belle endormie

Reveillez-vous, belle endormie is a study of vocal re-purposing presented in eight-channel computer processed audio. Source material for the piece is principally derived from the recording "Reveillez-Vous Belle Endormie (Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty)" by French-Canadian singer Claude Méthé as presented on the Smithsonian Folkways recording Mademoiselle, Voulez-Vous Dansez?.

The selection of M. Méthé's vocal performance as source material for this piece is in part due to the rich timbral qualities of his voice and in part due to the circumstances surrounding the recording of his performance. As an undergraduate student studying music at Dartmouth College in 1994, I was the recording engineer who recorded this performance with Ethnomusicologist Ted Levin at M. Méthé's home in New Hampshire. The entire compact disc as presented by Folkways was researched and recorded by Ted Levin's Ethnomusicology class at Dartmouth and as students, we we involved in the selection and production of most if not all of the tracks.

Reveillez-vous, belle endormie uses a combination of vocal resynthesis and multi-channel audio manipulation to create a dynamically shifting and acoustically powerful re-interpretation of Claude Méthé's voice. By starting with such a simple and tonally rich sound source, it seemed natural to create vocally-influenced but structurally complex musical gestures. The timbre and individual quality of M. Méthé's voice is retained even after extreme transformation and manipulation of the audio samples.

The principle samples taken from Méthé's voice are short excerpts from the original recording, centering around his voice singing the words "reveillez", "vous" and "jour" (respectively "wake", "you" and "day"). The samples were processed initially with SPEAR, a sinusoidal partial editing analysis and resynthesis tool written by Michael Klingbeil (www.klingbeil.com). By resynthesizing Méthé's voice as an aggregate of added sine waves, individual partials, formant regions, and moments of timbral interest can be isolated and manipulated for compositional intent.

Vocal samples resynthesized in SPEAR were then built into 8-channel aggregate sets using a simple 24-track playback/looping tool written in Max/MSP. By slightly detuning individual instances of a single audio recording and playing back looping multi-channel instances simultaneously, phase structures similar to the phase works of Steve Reich are created. The combination of SPEAR resynthesis and multi-track phased samples form the majority of sound samples used in the piece. In addition to simple stepped-detuning of samples, complex harmonic structures are also be generated from a single audio sample, by layering multiple instances of the same sample at harmonic frequency multiples (i.e. 1x, 2x, 3x, ... Nx speed playback).