Dronescape 6.2 (Oneirology 3)
Dronescape 6.2 is the eighth in a series of albums, containing new Digital Symphonies by Oscar van Dillen. The work on this album was collaboratively composed, created, and recorded April 2021-January 2022.
Music was created By Oscar van Dillen and Henri Tournier; cover art of this album was created by Oscar van Dillen.
Similar to the earlier Dronescape releases, this work can be considered to be an Electronic or Digital Symphony. This one-part collaborative work is called Oneirology 3.
Dronescape 6.2 is the third in a subseries, a kind of dreaming space in which Tournier’s Flutes are featured; the following releases will contain further collaborative versions with additional musicians, adding new original layers of music and meaning to this work.
- Oscar van Dillen Composition, electronics, sound design, mixing, and production
- Henri Tournier Composition, recording, bansuris, key flutes, octobass flute
- Oneirology 3 – duration 53:30
Total duration: 53:30
Download the CD booklet HERE
The title Dronescape suggests the contraction of the terms Drone and Soundscape, inferring a music which might at first sight be mistaken for ambient only. But not at a hearing: there is mostly a friendly and pleasant surface character to most compositions, but careful listening will reveal less obvious details and sounds, sometimes surprising, at other times perhaps disturbing.
In music, a drone (or bourdon) is understood to be a continuous sound, interval or chord, usually an accompaniment to a modal structure (melodic music based on a particular scale). Special instruments exist, dedicated to playing the drone only, such as the tanpura and the swar peti from India. Instruments are found all over the world that include drones within the melodic instruments themselves, such as the taraf strings on many Asian string instruments, but also the drone pipes next to the chanter in bagpipes, or the hurdy gurdy, and its predecessor the organistrum with their drone strings. Aboriginal didgeridoo music can be considered to consist purely of a rhythmized drone. Traditionally, drones with their sustained pitches are used as a harmonic support to the melodic music performed. In the Dronescapes by van Dillen the music itself has become rhythmized drone and soundscape at the same time, foregoing the traditional compositional hierarchies of theme and accompaniment, by using the following musical elements, in order of prominence: 1. sound 2. harmony 3. rhythm 4. melody. This non-prominence of melody stresses the absence of a traditional theme and accompaniment-oriented music, instead the work moves towards a more inclusive approach. This does not mean there are no developing linear structures, but rather that in a way the album can perhaps be regarded as being semipermeable to outside additions, whether coincidental and random (such as happening when listening outdoor or with windows opened), or improvised, or composed, or even as a large minus one recording, open to be supplemented by the listener, whether in imagined or performed future additional music.
In our current times of SARS-Covid pandemic, art in general, more specifically exhibitions, concerts and music performances and other events where an audience can meet creative artists, have in general been cancelled and made practically impossible in most places, mostly by government regulations that have so far proven to be as ineffective against the virus as they have been effective at disconnecting people. Divide et rege in action?
In our days, the world seems to be coming apart, coming apart again, we may be tempted to think, as humanity seems to have dealt with this before in the past. Indeed, there have been many past ages in which prophets of a kind have proclaimed the end of the world, with solutions offered within the context of their beliefs, mostly irrational solutions to irrational problems. Apocalyptic visions have thus helped establish many a tyrant in history. People that do not distinguish between belief and knowledge are tempted to believe that the current crises modern Science describes are no different from similar historical situations. There are vital differences however, among which the rational nature of the problem descriptions. Most importantly, this time we can objectively observe the crises in progress: today we are facing real and planetary existential threats, not just to ourselves, but to most life.
To name three of these existential threats:
- Human Waste (do we recall the plastics we see everywhere outdoors, are we aware that part of it is making us sterile in the next decades to come, which means possibly no more babies can be conceived and no more will be born?),
- Planetary Climate Change (have we noticed the weather patterns change everywhere, and lack or overabundance of rainfalls in places, as well as some rivers ceasing to flow and others starting to regularly overflow, beginning to make large areas uninhabitable in the foreseeable future, are we aware that safe access to clean sweet water is fundamentally needed for all life, have we noticed the unusual heat and cold waves accompanying the changing patterns of precipitation?),
- Artificial Intelligence (merely the next technology it seems, but what is it used for -and it certainly is used globally already- how does it affect every aspect of daily life, not just human, and most importantly: who will decide on how to regulate its use, whom will we elect to defend us from the existential threats, which politicians, often said to be notoriously analphabetic where websites, online multinationals, automated systems, digital technologies and computers in general are concerned, who will have the courage to act upon what is fact, science, knowledge?).
Such huge existential threats, getting worse every day, seem to generally not get the attention they need and deserve, sometimes to the point of facing censorship or litigation. Small beginnings need to be made and long-term nurtured, starting with reconnecting real people, not just online aliases, in a rational and realistic context.
The composer decided with this work to create such a small beginning, a common space to listen and dream together. To create, within the scope of his expertise, a dedicated work of music: a dark dreaming space, inviting other professionals to dream together, to dream music together, closely collaborating in a Covid-proof manner, remotely connecting in a joint effort, creating fresh beginnings for what can become a musical alphabet for Babel*, connecting and working together with specialists from various musical traditions.
In thus connecting, people enlarge their world yet make it come closer and seem smaller, more comprehensible, at a stroke. This is the major benefit of modern technology, without which the creation of this album would have been near impossible. You too are invited to connect, and listen or dream along, to face and escape reality and its daily nightmares, to imagine freely what to do, what to add, what to create: to imagine in the spirit of John Lennon.
* See also the Babel Alphabet paintings by Oscar van Dillen (1993)
The making of Oneirology 2
Oscar van Dillen and Henri Tournier met in 1996 at Codarts Rotterdam, where they were colleagues for over two decades. After their intense involvement in pedagogy and teaching activities, they now created space for this artistic collaboration. Surprisingly, this collaboration started during the second year of online teaching, just when they did not actually meet each other weekly anymore, due to a period of online teaching, faced by the world Covid-19 crisis since spring 2020.
Oneirology turned out to be an excellent way to keep the contact alive and the artistic link strong. As Henri Tournier’s contract with Codarts ended in 2021, the project helped him to create a more positive conclusion to 27 years of teaching in Rotterdam, especially since the final 2 years of online classes was not the most inspiring and easy ending!
Oscar van Dillen shared his project with Henri Tournier and invited him to the collaboration. After a few first tries and experimentations, and a few months later during the summer of 2021, he prepared himself to record the long improvisation of almost one hour needed for the project in one go, two single takes: the first take on the C transverse flute, and the second on the octobass flute, a beautiful instrument made by the French flute maker Jean-Yves Roosen, with a huge tessiture of more than 3 octaves, the lower note being an A one minor third lower than the lowest C of the cello.
Tournier sent his recording to van Dillen who performed an impressive mixing, mastering, and producing job, finally integrating the instrumental and electronic sound worlds, with the result sounding like a live concert recording of a trio. Meanwhile the two artists kept in touch online up to the end of the full achievement of the creation.
Oneirology 2 creates the impression of a live performance captured in recording, with the higher flutes mainly to the right and the very low octobass flute in the left channel of a wide quasi surround sound stereo recording. On good stereo equipment one can perceive the instruments sounding outside the loudspeakers rather than coming from them. This spatial setting serves to keep the element of human performance present, including the loud breaths preserved and even slightly emphasized in the mix. In fact, the work can be performed live with one of more flutes or flutists improvising to the electronics.
During the development of this album, Tournier remarked it almost felt like a trio sonata for 2 flutes and electronics, pointing at the closely knit counterpoint in sounds and pitches resulting. In fact, the work combines a classical sense of form, at the same time rigid and clear, as well as open and flexible, with the improvisatory element added. Classical then has to be interpreted in both the European and Indian sense, and this form bridges formal principles shared and developed along different styles across two continents. Existing forms were not literally used, forms such as the classical European song-form, rondo, or sonata from types with their clearly outlined sections and repetitions, depending on functional harmony to work, nor is there literal use of the classical Indian forms, depending on the gradual build-up in speed, register, and intensity, all to a single drone tonic. The Dronescape Oneirology is a far more adventurous and moving drone, in sound, dynamics, pitch content and form, and is not treated as background or accompaniment, but interacted with to create a larger story.
All three participants, flute (right), octobass flute (left), and electronics (from centre outwards) have their “solo” moments, but throughout all engage in a 3-part sonic counterpoint. Tournier makes use of the full range of technical possibilities of the flutes, such as was developed in the second half of the 20th century, including air sounds, whistle tones, key slaps, multiphonics, and more: a small encyclopaedia of virtuoso contemporary flute techniques.
One thing Oneirology 3 shares with its historic and stylistic predecessors and inspirations: it has a clear and strongly emotional climax close to the end, at around 48 minutes.
Between start and end the flute acts like a listener’s guide in the cosmos of the quasi-disembodied electronics during the musical development. After completion it leaves the listener with a sense akin to what is described in the end of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner:
“a sadder and a wiser man, he rose the morrow morn”.
It may sometimes be somewhat difficult to determine the exact source of a particular sound, but the clear spatial setting helps with this identification. Overall, the mutual tuning and sound qualities were done with utmost care.
Although perhaps 5 formal parts plus an introduction can be discerned, the work is here presented as a single track, in the spirit of the sister productions in the Dronescape 6.* series. A single almost 54 minutes long track does require some patience contemporary listeners are mostly unaccustomed to, being used to either the standard 3 minutes long popular songs, the standard 3-7 minutes long jazz recordings, or the standard 12 to 20 minutes long composed works, with which the musical mediascape of today is flooded. In this sense, the listener is offered an opportunity to enter another timescape. A dreamscape. A dronescape, where one can make sense or nonsense at will and decide what threads and paths of sound and music to follow with undivided attention.
So far, the following Dronescapes have been released:
- Genomes – Emanations
- Requiem for a Planet
- Oneirology (series of collaborations)
- solo version Oscar van Dillen
- version with Kudsi Erguner
- version with Henri Tournier (this album)
- version with Pier Sante Falconi (in preparation)
- Jñāna – Rigpa
- The four Pillars of Reason (in preparation)
New Dronescapes are in the making, you can follow Oscar van Dillen and Donemus Records publications by their websites, but also for example on Twitter.
A word of warning: after careful listening, the world around you may not sound the same any longer.
Henri Tournier studied Western classical music with Roger Bourdin at Versailles Conservatoire and then with Fernand Caratgé at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. It was Roger Bourdin, renowned soloist, and an eclectic musician, who transmitted his passion for improvisation to him.
A laureate of the George Cziffra (flute piano recital with Regina Barros) and Yehudi Menuhin foundations (flute guitar recital with Marcus Llerena), parallel to his chamber music concerts, Henri Tournier started developing his own language of improvisation in the context of music for contemporary ballet, mainly with the Peter Goss company and its composer Armand Amar.
After 2 years in the CIM Paris Jazz school, improvisation led him to Indian classical Music, first the South Indian classical Music, Carnatic Music, with Sundar Rao a disciple of T.R.Mahalingam.
Since 1989 he has been following the guidance of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, during many stays in Mumbai, then at Rotterdam Conservatoire where he collaborated with him for more than 27 years as his assistant-guest teacher. In Mumbai he was also tutored by Pandit Malhar Kulkarni.
Henri Tournier has accompanied Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia at various concerts. In 1999-2000, he was deeply involved in the creation and interpretation of his Bansuri concerto Adi Anant, teamwork with the composer Pablo Cueco.
As one of the few musicians both active in the research and performance of Indian classical music, Henri Tournier has successfully included the Bansuri in the contemporary repertoire, by creating many original works. He has multiplied his musical experiences by playing with the Ensembles Nyssa, Henri Agnel, Pablo Cueco’s Transes Européennes, Aman-Salon de Musique, Millenarium, the Hyksos Duo, the Hardy-Tournier-Roy Trio, Sharmila Sharma and Prabhu Edouard, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Willem Tanke, the composer Pierre Bernard, in trio with Carole Hemard and Thierry Gomar, among others. He has worked for many years with the production Accords Croisés as a guest musician within various original projects of World Music encounters : Mahwash (Afghanistan) & Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI, Keyvan Chemirani’s Beats of the oriental heart (Iran/India/Greece), Houria Aïchi (Algeria), Luzmila Carpio (Bolivia), Abida Parveen (Pakistan), Liu Fang, Lingling Yu (China), Enkhjargal Dandarvaanchig (Mongolie) (Steppes breath), performing in different countries of Europe, of middle-Est, India, Russia, North America, Canada, South America (Brésil, Bolivie).
From 1983-2005 Henri Tournier taught at the Municipal Conservatoire of Paris and from 1989-1991 at the National Conservatoire of Reunion Island where he organized cultural exchanges with India and Mauritius. At the Conservatoire of Rotterdam-Codarts, Henri Tournier teaches bansuri flute as well as Indian theory and improvisation to the Bachelor and Master students.
Member of the French Society of Ethnomusicology, he holds the French Teacher Certification for Traditional Music (2001), participated in music symposium and conferences ( Sangeet Research Academy – Bombay, Rotterdam, Cité de la Musique de Paris, INALCO Paris, International flute convention Paris and Orlando, USA) and as specialist consultant within projects such as Afghan Ghazals by Mahwash, or Frederic Leclair’s movie Ravi Shankar’s Extraordinary Lesson broadcast by Arte (DVD «Accords Croisés» collection). He is the author of the reference book-2CDs Hariprasad Chaurasia and the Art of Improvisation a Codarts/Accords-Croisés publication.
He is teaching modal improvisation in the Framework of masterclasses, workshops and residences, he has been appointed since September 2016 as teacher of Indian Classical Music and Modal improvisation in the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, CNSMDP.
OIJ Records – Donemus DCV 408