À son insu

Photo of Maxime McKinley


Justin Laramée

À son insu

Music Conservatory of Montreal

Written by

Maxime McKinley

interpreted by

Marie-Chantal Leclair

as part of:

Totem Électrique #6


Working on a mixed piece for an instrument invented by Jean-François Laporte (the siren organ) made me dive into a sonic world about which I knew nothing. Using this ignorance as a creative space stimulated me a lot in this project; a creative process that made me feel that what I think I know about sound actually only touches the tip of the iceberg. Hence the title,  ("without knowing"), which can be read in French as a common expression (what happens without one noticing, what escapes us), but also as a sort of dedication or tribute to sound and what it has to teach us (in French, “À” can mean “To”).

The tape is made entirely from recordings of the siren organ, sometimes used with kitchen utensils (whisk, lids) and bells. First shy, the sound flourishes gradually: the potential of the siren organ unfolds in a development that extends more and more as the piece accumulates breaths, beatings in high harmonics, percussive attack-resonance effects, and microtonal chord textures. The real-time siren organ evolves in the middle of its own potential (presented on fixed media), which gives way to “nomad doublings,” meaning to say that it points out, supports, or amplifies various elements of the tape part.

This piece was composed with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, with the assistance of Adam Basanta for the realization of the electronics. Thanks to Jean-François Laporte and Marie-Chantal Leclair for making my explorations possible with their availability and generosity. M. McKinley

The audiovisual version of At Discretion of River was performed at the Wilder Blue Space on May 9, 2021. Jean-François Laporte is the performer of the audiovisual version.

This version of À son insu was performed by Marie-Chantal Leclair and filmed at Totem Électrique VI, Montreal (Quebec), 7 June 2014.