Each station on Line #1 of the Paris Metro is announced twice by recorded computer-generated voices (a gradual return to « human » voices is planned « to restore a measure of humanity and lend warmth " *).
The MetrOpera Project has focused on these voices that are heard every day by thousands of travelers and perfectly illustrate the complex relationship in our environment between sound, information and music.
The intonation of the announcements (firstly interrogative, then affirmative) produces a « music » that in this Project we extract with the intention of transforming a purely informative message into an original musical and artistic creation.
All speech is also music, but it is striking that the words used to announce the 25 stations on Line #1 of the Paris Metro carry even greater musicality: in terms of a musical phrase, these voices move from stress to relaxation, from the tonic to the dominant then return to the tonic at the end of the phrase, and accentuate modulated variations of up to an octave.
Although the musicality of all language is generated by the pitch and intensity of the vowels, the prosodic intonation (melody, intonation, rhythm, pitch variations, pauses) of these announcements is greatly accentuated, producing a surprising musical combinatory.
Travelers are therefore conveyed along a veritable intonational journey where, as in a poem, the vowels and consonants lend rhythm, with the number of syllables determining whether this rhythm is binary or ternary, and where cuts mark the start and end of each bar.
Rather than divert this latent, underlying music from its original purpose, we have chosen to interpret it in the classical sense, endeavoring to write a score then, as in jazz, improvise freely and gradually transform this ordered material of perfectly arranged notes into repetitive sounds and visual forms, similar to those that convey the audience/passengers from one station to the next in an imaginary dimension that is both strange and oddly familiar.
Inseparable from the sound, and fundamentally linked to the score, the video develops and amplifies the movements in space and time suggested by the music. Designed using the same principles (duration, speed, rhythm, silence, stress, relaxation, intensity), the music and the images interact and intersect.
Finally, just like for the music, the choreography here is not a narrative: it alternately decomposes and recomposes, brings forth different energies, shows travelers moving into the background or asserting themselves as time goes by and with the different sounds they are offered.
This project therefore aims to highlight the marked musicality carried by all messages and the many passageways between dimensions that were hitherto considered to be separate but are now reconciled: efficient informative practical approach, and poetic, cultural artistic content.
It is therefore not surprising to find a visual artist/videographer (Bernard Pourrière) and a musician (Hervé Passamar) combining their skills to conceive and build the MetrOpera Project that has three distinct outputs:
An original-creation 7-minute video available on all media (L 1), that includes the score.
Performances featuring both artists, produced in situ (Station to Station)
A choreographic performance that includes video, contemporary dance and live music (Trafic Danse).
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* Source: RATP