Pendulum Choir is a choral piece for nine a cappella voices and eighteen hydraulic jacks, which mobilises engineering, musical, and organ-building expertise. Each chorist is attached to an individual moving platform that can be tilted up to 45° in a linear or circular manner, producing mechanical constraints which engender novel sonorities and a compellingly staged performance. Vocal and corporeal movements are composed cohesively: soloists are physically elevated above the mass constituting the collective “organ”, operated in real time from a control booth in keeping with pre-programmed sequences that activate all platforms simultaneously. The hydraulic system is powerful, fast, and silent, to ensure homogeneity of choir and machine at morphological and sonic levels. Real time processing of vocal frequency and amplitude “cools” the chorists’ spectrum to machine tones and generates synthetic sounds that evolve with the score (comprised of concatenated syllables and phonetic fragments from Latin texts by Virgil, Horace, and Ovid). Pendulum Choir is a bio-technological organ which embodies the allegory it relates by providing mythological perspectives on breath, the work’s starting point. Long used for timekeeping, the mechanical pendulum is thus metaphorically tuned in this rather breathtaking creation to anima, the primary vitalist symbol and proof of aerobic life.
About the authors
Michel Décosterd. Born in Le Locle (Suiza). Diploma of architecture at the Engineering school of Biel. Active as architect in Berlin and Weimar. Founds the group Cod.Act with André Décosterd. Active in plastic arts and in architecture. Develops and constructs sound machines.
André Décosterd. Apprenticeship in organ factoring, Neuchâtel (CH). Diploma from the Ecole de Jazz et de Musique Actuelle (Ejma) in Lausanne (CH). Founds the group Cod.Act with Michel Décosterd. Active as musician and composer. Specialises in computer programming of musical applications. Studies composition systems specific to contemporary music, in particular logarithmic composition. Performs researches on the interaction between man, sound and machines.