Montréal, le 18 janvier 1996


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Tutti Shruthi

Marc Cassivi

In the middle of the theatre sits an imposing metal structure in the form of a giant spider. Intriguing, beautiful and symmetrical, it makes one wonder what it might be. Beneath this welded canopy an array of unusual object are deployed, hung and scattered.

The fascinating structure is called Espace Shruthi and was conceived by sculptor Paskal Dufaux and by Ganesh Anandan a musician, composer, inventor and builder of instruments.

For the last month the two young artists have been perfecting this surreal gothic sound architecture at the Théâtre la Chapelle, where begins tonight a series of concerts of experimental Indian influenced percussion music performed by Anandan and percussionist Claude Lépine – the 3e Oreille duo.

The marriage of Dufaux’s European and Gothic influences with Anandan’s Indian musical perception has allowed the two artists to create this singular space. ‘We collaborated at the level of the mathematics of sound,’ says Dufaux. ‘Ganesh was especially interested in the frequencies of tones arrived at by Pythagorean calculation, while I was intrigued by the geometry required to represent a musical universe.’

For the audience, the shapes of L’Espace Shruthi evoke a cathedral, a cave, a tree or a mountain. ‘The structure represents the low notes – above the notes become physical, as though the music has solidified on the structure,’ says Dufaux, ‘but the work also evokes numerous images.’

Ganesh Anandan, who is trained in classical Indian music (flute and percussion) designed and built, using cedar, bamboo, aluminum and ceramic, most of the instruments that complete the structure. These are invented and modified percussion instruments as well as more traditional stringed instruments, all of which are deployed beneath the cathedral’s canopy.

On top of being an original sculpture, L’Espace Shruthi is the generator of a uniquely sonorous percussion music. ‘In India, the octave is divided into 22 unequal intervals, fractions of tones we call shruthis,’ explains Anandan, ‘Most Western music uses only 12 tones, so the shruthis open a whole new range to the ear.’

‘It’s a very accessible performance,’ concludes Dufaux.