Rayons de son

In an interview on French radio in 1955, Edgard Varèse recalled how he had become aware of a fourth dimension in music during a performance of the Ludwig van Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony in the Salle Pleyel in Paris. Because the Salle Pleyel was “rich of acoustic surprises”, and because Varèse was seated on a place in the hall that was “over-resonant”, he suddenly imagined the prolongation of the sound caused by the reverberation as a projection of sound in space, just as a strong spotlight can project a light beam. According to Varèse, sound, just like light, should be able to make a journey through space.

In Rayons de son, the idea of a prolongation of sound is understood both literally and metaphorically. The starting material consisted of eleven processed phrases of the text read by Varèse, and an equal number of short phrases from the trio of the third part of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

Rayons de son was dedicated to Dick Raaijmakers at the occasion of his eightieth birthday on 1 September 2010. The work was premiered on 10 September 2010 in the former buildings of the Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven.

The sound material on the 16 channels of the original version was rearranged in 2016 to adapt the work to the Asimuth experimental loudspeaker setup in Studio LOOS. This led to a completely revised version for 16-channel playback.

year: 2010–2016
duration: 17:15
tracks: 16

An abridged version (10:00) of Rayons de son is available on the CD Panels: An Inquiry into the Spatial, the Sonic and the Public (NAiM / Bureau Europa, 2010).
The complete version is available on the 3-CD set Post Scriptum: Music from the Institute of Sonology (PS 001).