reveillez-vous: etude no. 1
8-channel audio

by Robert Hamilton

reveillez-vous: etude no. 1 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. While the final say in the licensing of this track for my use rests with the Smithsonian, contacting both Ted Levin and the Smithsonian/Folkways representatives, a tentative agreement is in place for my use of the material.


reveillez-vous: etude no. 1 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 ( 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).


Reveillez-vous, belle endormie [Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty] 2:05
traditional, as performed by Claude Méthé

Réveillez-vous, belle endormie
Réveillez-vous, car il est jour
Prétez l'oreille à la fenêtre
Vous entenderez parler d'amour.
Qui est cette voix qui me parle,
Et qui m'empêche de dormir?
C'est votre amant, charmant belle
Qui vient pour causer avec vous.
Demandez-donc à votre père
S'il veut nous marier ou non.
S'il ne veut pas qu'on me le dise;
Je m'en irai au fond des bois.
Je m'en irai en hermitage
Finir mes jours près d'un ruisseau;
Ma nourriture sera d'herbage
Et ma boisson sera mes pleurs.
Mon père est en haut dans sa chambre
Sur son lit blanc prends son repos,
Dans sa main droite il tient une lettre,
C'est pour vous donner un congé.
Wake up, sleeping beauty
Wake up, for it is day
Put your ear to the window
You will hear talk of love.
Who is this voice talking to me,
And who prevents me from sleeping?
It is your lover, charming beauty,
Who comes to chat with you.
Then ask your father
Whether or not he wants to marry us.
Tell me if he doesnÍt want to;
I'll take off into the depths of the woods
I will go into hiding
To finish my days near a brook;
My food will be grasses
And my drink will be my tears.
My father is upstairs in his bedroom
On his white bed taking a rest;
In his right hand he holds a letter,
It is to give you your leave.



12.14.2005 Music 220a Presentations *
CCRMA Stage, Stanford University, USA

* = World Premiere

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