QUATRE: a project connecting immersive nature soundscapes and music recorded in multipoint higher order Ambisonics
QUATRE : un projet immersif reliant des paysages sonores naturels et de la musique enregistrée en ambisonie multipoint d’ordre élevé.
Last year, our creative sound engineer Florian Grond had the privilege to accompany Christophe Papadimitriou during the production of QUATRE, an immersive work of audio art connecting soundscapes with music and improvisation. The music was recorded with ZYLIA’s 6DoF VR/AR set in the studios of the Orford Music centre in Quebec, Canada and the nature soundscapes were recorded with a single ZYLIA ZM-1 microphone outdoors, the whole composition was mixed and mastered as a binaural album. Christophe was so kind to grant us an interview and to speak about what moves him as an artist and what inspired him to embark on this immersive audio journey.
L'année dernière, notre ingénieur du son créatif Florian Grond a eu le privilège d'accompagner Christophe Papadimitriou lors de la production de QUATRE, une œuvre d'art audio immersive reliant les paysages sonores à la musique et à l'improvisation. La musique a été enregistrée avec l'ensemble 6DoF de ZYLIA dans les studios du centre musique Orford au Québec, Canada, et les paysages sonores de la nature ont été enregistrés avec un seul ZYLIA ZM-1 microphone en extérieur, l'ensemble de la composition a été mixé et masterisé comme un album binaural. Christophe a eu la gentillesse de nous donner une interview et de parler de ce qui le touche en tant qu'artiste et de ce qui l'a inspiré à se lancer dans ce projet audio immersive.
Photo: The 3 musicians of the project QUATRE recording in multipoint higher-order Ambisonics with ZYLIA’s 6DoF system: from left to right Luzio Altobelli, Christophe Papadimitriou, and Omar-Abou Afach.
Photo: Les 3 musiciens du projet QUATRE enregistrant en ambisonie d'ordre supérieur en multipoint avec le système 6DoF de ZYLIA : de gauche à droite Luzio Altobelli, Christophe Papadimitriou, et Omar-Abou Afach.
Zylia: Hello Christophe, tell us about yourself and your artistic journey?
Bonjour Christophe, parlez-nous de vous et de votre parcours artistique ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: I arrived in Quebec from France in 1978. I live in Montreal and I have performed as a musician ever since I graduated from Concordia University in 1992. There, I studied double bass with the great jazz musician Don Habib and classical music with Éric Lagacé. Since then, I have shared the stage with many artists from Montreal, especially from the jazz and world music scene as well as with chanson artists.
For the past 10 years, I have been lucky enough to be able to play and record my own compositions for theatre projects as well as for jazz and world music productions, which is what I like most! I love composing and sharing with the public the fruit of my creativity and my imagination.
Je suis arrivé au Québec de France en 1978 et je vis à Montréal où je travaille comme musicien depuis ma sortie de l’Université Concordia en 1992. J’y ai étudié la contrebasse avec les grands professeurs et artistes jazz et classiques Don Habib et Éric Lagacé. Depuis, j’ai partagé la scène avec de nombreux artistes montréalais, surtout en jazz, musique du monde et chanson.
Depuis les derniers 10 ans, j’ai la chance de pouvoir jouer et enregistrer mes propres compositions au sein de projets autant en théâtre, jazz et musique du monde.
C’est ce qui me plait le plus, j'adore composer et partager avec le public le fruit de ma créativité et de mon imagination.
Photo: Christophe Papadimitriou recording a typical Quebec summer sound scape with the ZYLIA ZM-1 microphone.
Photo: Christophe Papadimitriou enregistre une paysage sonore typique de l'été québécois avec le ZM-1 microphone de ZYLIA.
Zylia: As a double bass player and musician, which are your favorite audiences?
En tant que contrebassiste et musicien, quels sont vos publics préférés ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: I am lucky to be able to work a lot and to have the opportunity to perform on stage, about a hundred performances a year. This direct contact with the public is so important for me, since it means that I can get an immediate response from the audience. This is true especially with young audiences, who are very expressive and do not censor themselves. I like it when music provokes strong sensations and I also enjoy taking risks, especially during moments of improvisation, where I particularly feel alive as musician and experience a unique and intense moment with the public.
J’ai la chance de travailler beaucoup et l’opportunité de me produire sur scène, environ une centaine de représentations par an. Ce contact avec le public est le plus important pour moi, car j’ai une réponse immédiate de la part du public. Notamment avec les jeunes, qui sont très expressifs et n’ont pas de censure. J’aime quand la musique provoque des sensations fortes et j’adore aussi la prise de risques, notamment lors de moments improvisés, ou les musiciens vivent, en même temps que le public, un moment unique et intense.
Zylia: Now here comes a big question, what is the meaning of music and art for you?
Maintenant, voici une grande question, quelle est la signification de la musique et de l'art pour vous ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: For me, music is the most faithful way to express emotions and inner feelings. Transcending words and images, music allows musicians and audiences to connect and to share simultaneously both collective and individual experiences. When the magic works and the musicians and the audience are transported by this positive energy, then we can experience a moment of grace… These moments are rare and for that, very precious.
Pour moi, la musique est le moyen d’exprimer le plus fidèlement les émotions et l'intériorité. Transcendant les mots et les images, la musique permet aux musiciens et à l’auditoire de se connecter ensemble et de vivre simultanément une expérience à la fois collective et individuelle. Quand la magie opère et que musiciens et audience sont transportés par cette énergie positive, alors nous pouvons vivre un moment de grâce…Ces moments sont rares et pour ça, très précieux.
Photo: Recording the soundscape of a winter night with the ZYLIA ZM-1 mic at the Orford music centre
Photo: Enregistrement du paysage sonore d'une nuit d'hiver avec ZM-1 mic de ZYLIA au centre musique Orford
Zylia: You created QUATRE, what motivated you to embark on this project?
Vous avez créé QUATRE, qu’est-ce qui vous a motivé à vous lancer dans ce projet ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: The Covid pandemic had a significant impact on many levels on our society and forces us to reconsider, if this was not already the case, the connection we have between us and with the planet. Questioning human activity and our impact on nature became an absolute priority for me. In general, this realization has an impact on the arts and it became clear to me that this would be the material for my next project. This is how the idea came about to create a work based on the cycle of the seasons with the desire to reconnect with the nature that surrounds us. With this work, I want to create a dialogue between music and the sounds of nature, a moment of personal and quasi-meditative respite where the listener is invited to encounter nature in a different way and to recreate a link with what is precious.
La pandémie de Covid a eu un impact important sur plusieurs plans de notre société et nous oblige à prendre conscience, si ce n’était pas déjà le cas, de notre interconnexion au niveau planétaire. Une remise en question de l’activité humaine et de notre impact sur la nature sont des enjeux absolument prioritaires. Cette prise de conscience a naturellement un impact sur l’art en général et pour moi, il est devenu évident que ce serait la matière mon prochain projet. C’est ainsi qu’est née l’idée de créer une œuvre basée sur le cycle des saisons avec la volonté de reconnecter avec la nature qui nous entoure. Je voulais par cette œuvre créer l’effet d’un dialogue entre musique et sons de la nature, un moment de répit personnel et quasi-méditatif où l’auditeur est invité à rencontrer autrement la nature et à recréer du lien avec le précieux.
Zylia: Who are the other musicians in QUATRE?
Qui sont les autres musiciens de QUATRE ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: Key contributors to the project are Luzio Altobelli (accordion and marimba), Omar Abou Afach (viola, oud and nai) and Florian Grond (sound design). In addition to the great mastery of their instruments, Luzio and Omar bring their sensitivity and humanity to each piece of the work. It was very interesting to observe during the production of Quatre (which took place over more than a year), how the group dynamic evolved over the seasons. Our cultural differences and also the points that bring us together. All this is reflected in the recorded music. We can hear moments of great unity and also solos where the instrumentalists can let themselves go to follow their own vision, to express their feeling of the moment. Quatre is a work with written pieces but it also leaves plenty of room for improvisation. Thus, the musicians were able to express themselves in their own musical language which enriched the work with various traditional timbres (Middle East, Mediterranean and Quebec).
Collaborateurs essentiels au projet : Luzio Altobelli (accordéon et marimba), Omar Abou Afach (alto, oud et nai) et Florian Grond (design sonore). En plus de leur évidente maîtrise instrumentale, Luzio et Omar apportent leur sensibilité et leur humanité dans chaque pièce de l'œuvre. Il a été très intéressant de constater pendant la réalisation de Quatre (qui s'est déroulée sur plus d’un an), la dynamique de groupe qui évoluait au fil des saisons. Nos différences culturelles et aussi les points qui nous rassemblent. Tout ceci se perçoit dans la musique enregistrée. On peut entendre des moments d’une grande unité et aussi des solos ou l’instrumentiste peut se laisser aller à sa propre vision, son ressenti du moment. Quatre est une œuvre avec des pièces écrites mais qui laisse toujours une bonne place à l'improvisation. Ainsi, les musiciens ont pu s’exprimer dans leur propre langage et l’œuvre est riche de sonorités diverses (Moyen Orient, Méditerranée et Québec).
Photo: In order to share the project with various communities, QUATRE organises binaural listening sessions indoors and outdoors. Up to 12 people can connect with headphones for an individual and yet collective experience of the work.
Photo: Afin de partager le projet avec diverses communautés, QUATRE organise des sessions d'écoute binaurale en intérieur et en extérieur. Jusqu'à 12 personnes peuvent se connecter avec des écouteurs pour une expérience individuelle et pourtant collective de l'œuvre.
Zylia: QUATRE was realized as a multipoint higher order Ambisonics recording using ZYLIA’s 6DoF set, what is the appeal of immersive audio for you?
QUATRE a été réalisé comme un enregistrement en ambisonie d'ordre supérieur avec multiple point de captation avec le set ZYLIA 6DoF, quel est l'intérêt de l'audio immersif pour vous ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: During an improvised COVID concert outdoors on my terrace, Florian recorded us for the first time, starting with a single ZM-1, which was when I discovered immersive audio recording technology. A bird was singing along while we played, and I was immediately taken by the possibility of connecting my music with the sounds of nature and treating it like a 4th instrument. It is through this technology that we can really feel surrounded by the sound universe that we have created. Quatre is conceived as a journey, a walk, through Quebec's nature through the seasons. To support this feeling, we have integrated footstep sounds (in the snow, in the sand, in the water) in each season to help the listener to imagine herself walking in the forest or more generally in nature. The feedback we got from listeners show that the immersive effect was quite a success.
Pendant un concert Covid improvisé sur ma terrasse, Florian nous a enregistré pour la première fois, d’abord avec un seul ZM-1, c’était là que j’ai découvert la technologie d’enregistrement en audio immersif. Un oiseau chantait le long de notre jeu et j’ai été charmé par la possibilité de connecter ma musique avec les sons de la nature, et de traiter celle-ci comme un 4e instrument. C’est cette technologie qui nous a permis de réellement se sentir entouré par l’univers sonore ainsi créé. Quatre est conçue comme un voyage dans la nature québécoise au fil des saisons. D’ailleurs, nous avons intégré à chaque saison des sons de pas (dans la neige, dans le sable, dans l’eau) qui aident l’auditeur à se projeter en train de se promener en forêt ou plus général en nature. Les témoignages que nous avons reçus après l’écoute montrent que l’effet d’immersion est bien réussi.
Zylia: Also, you had it mastered as a binaural piece for headphones, tell us why?
Aussi, vous l'avez fait masteriser en tant que pièce binaurale pour casque, dites-nous pourquoi ?
Christophe Papadimitriou: I am convinced that listening through headphones offers the best conditions for total listener presence. The work has many subtleties and the dynamic range of the sound is great, going from very soft to loud, so headphones are necessary to appreciate every detail.
Today, a lot of people listen to music through headphones, but often while multitasking at the same time. To fully enjoy the music of Quatre, we suggest a moment of respite where the audience, comfortably seated, is completely dedicated to the act of listening. We are currently in the process of setting up several collective listening sessions with headphones in the Montreal area. These sessions will accommodate about fifteen listeners at a time and are created with the aim of discovering this work and providing an experience connecting art, nature and humans.
Nous sommes convaincus que l’écoute au casque offre les meilleures conditions pour une présence totale de l’auditeur. L'œuvre a beaucoup de subtilités et l'amplitude sonore est grande, passant de très doux à fort, le casque est nécessaire pour ne rien manquer.
Beaucoup de gens écoutent leur musique au casque de nos jours, mais souvent en faisant une autre tâche en même temps. Pour profiter de l’expérience au maximum, nous privilégions un moment de répit ou l’auditeur, confortablement installé, se dédie complètement à l’écoute. Nous sommes en train de mettre en place plusieurs séances d’écoute collectives au casque, dans la région de Montréal. Ces séances permettant une quinzaine d'auditeurs à la fois sont créées dans le but de faire découvrir cette œuvre et de faire vivre une expérience connectant art, nature et humains.
To learn more:
Pour en savoir plus :
Support our approach and the artists by downloading Quatre here:
Appuyez notre démarche et supportez les artistes en téléchargeant Quatre ici :
"Music is the only language in the universe that we can all speak and understand" says Basia Galaj our Brand Ambassador, sharing her thoughts in a short interview.
Zylia: Tell us why music is so important for you? When and how it all began?
Basia: Music is the only language in the universe that we can all speak and understand. Even when you don’t necessarily play an instrument or sing, you can feel it. Music makes people emotional, helps go through happy and sad times and that is why I feel like it is the most powerful weapon we have. It is very important to me because it brings hope that humans can unite and create no matter the differences.
When I was about a year old, my grandma started singing to me and playing me different recordings and albums. I would repeat those melodies after her. When she passed away, my mom and grandpa took over. Grandfather played me jazz in the car - lots of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; I still remember the cassettes he used! :-) My mom showed me Michael Jackson, Basia Trzetrzelewska, Kayah and classical music such as Bach and Chopin.
That lead to piano lessons at age of 5 and continues until day on :-)
Zylia: How and when did you firs hear about ZYLIA?
Basia: I heard about ZYLIA from my mentor and friend – Mikolaj Stroinski. It was during the summer of 2017. He called me and said: Basia, you need to meet these incredible guys, They created a mic... and he just kept going and going :-)
Zylia: How do you see the potential of microphone array technology in changing the way musicians record themselves?
Basia: I think and I really hope it will become a necessity for every musician or music passionate that would like to easily record themselves in a great quality. It has so much potential in many areas! It can only grow in the VR world and that is becoming a next step in the music industry. It makes life of bands much easier since it is using only one cable, not 19 for every mic capsule inside the mic.
Zylia: What are your plans for future? Any interesting projects on your mind?
Basia: I am the leader / organizer of the very first TED talk at Berklee that will be happening next semester – Fall 2018. I am hoping to grow my blog and YouTube channel; I have lots of new content coming up very soon! Over the summer I am going to be doing interviews with Polish World War II veterans, asking them about their experiences and memories and I am going to write music to their confessions and stories. Hopefully, I will be able to use ZYLIA mic to record the interviews :-)
Some extra thing that I do is a project I called – Throwback Thursday! Every Thursday I do a video featuring my friends, we play a song from our childhood or just something we have memories of. I put those videos on my YouTube channel and Facebook fan page :-)
Zylia: We definitely need to see them:-) Thank you for your time and good luck with new projects!
Born in Bydgoszcz, Poland, Basia entered the world of music at a very young age. In 2014, she got accepted into the University of North Texas, where she pursued a degree in Jazz Studies. She has had the privilege to share the stage with artists such as ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin.
Currently Basia lives in Boston, MA and attends the prestigious Berklee College of Music where she is pursuing a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production with a minor in Creative Entrepreneurship. On June 19th 2017, Basia released her debut EP called "Day By Day".
She is currently performing around East Coast with her band, playing her original music.
Zylia: Tell us what is the story behind your project?
Yao: Last spring, I was 9 months away from graduating from Berklee College of Music, and the panic of post-graduation uncertainty was becoming unbearable. I was struggling to plan my career and I wanted to do something different. I spent a whole summer researching the ins and outs of spatial audio and decided to do my Senior Portfolio Project around my research. What I have found is that spatial audio is often found in VR games and films - recreating a 3D environment. It is rarely used as a tool for music composition and production. I saw my opportunity.
With the help and hard work of my team (around 60 students involved), we succeeded in creating ‘Unraveled’, an immersive 360 audio and visual experience, where the audience would find themselves at the center of all elements, being surrounded by choir, strings, synths and imagery. My role was the project leader, composer, and executive producer. I found a most talented team of friends to work on this together: Gareth Wong and Deniz Turan as co-producers, Carlos Del Castillo as visual designer, Ben Knorr as music contractor, Paden Osburn as music contractor and conductor, Jeffrey Millonig as lead engineer and Sherry Li as lead vocalist and lyricist. Not to mention the wonderful musicians and choir members. I am truly grateful for their hard work, dedication and focus.
‘Unraveled’ also officially kickstarts my company ICTUS, a company that provides music and sound design content specializing in spatial audio solutions. For immersive experiences such as VR, AR and MR, we are your one-stop audio shop for a soundscape that completes the reality. We provide music composition, sound design, 360 recording, mixing, mastering, post-production, spatialization and visualizing services tailored to your unique project.
We are incredibly humbled that 'Unraveled' has been officially selected for the upcoming 44th Seattle International Film Festival, which runs May 17 to June 10, and to have been accepted for the Art and Technology Exhibition at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, from Saturday May 26 to Sunday July 1.
"Get a pair of headphones. Cave in somewhere quiet. Alone. Empty your thoughts and… Allow yourself to dive into something new. A pristine place that will truly disconnect you from the daily frenzy of life."
‘Unraveled’ has been officially selected for the upcoming 44th Seattle International Film Festival, which runs May 17 - June 10, with more than 400 films from 80 countries, running 25 days, and with over 155,000 attendees!
Zylia: Recording so many people at once must have been challenging. How did you organize this?
Yao: I worked very closely with Paden Osburn, the conductor and music contractor, to schedule, revise, coordinate and plan the session. Paden is a dear to work with, basically allowing me to focus on the music while she coordinated with the rest of the amazing choir members. We had developed a great workflow.
I also had many meetings with the team of engineers as well as many professors to figure out the simplest, most efficient way to record. It was indeed very challenging and stressful to pull off, but it was also one the most magical night of my life.
Behind the scene, photo by @jamiexu0528.
Zylia: Tell us more about the technical part of this project.
Yao: On October 27, 2017, we had a recording session of the choir parts with 40 students from Berklee College of Music. The recording was done using three ambisonic microphones (Zylia, Ambeo, TetraMic). We tried forging a 320 piece choir by asking the 40 students to shift their positions around the microphones for every overdub. We also recorded 12 close mic-ed singers to have some freedom spatializing individual mono sources.
The spatialization was achieved through Facebook360 Spatial Workstation in REAPER. Many sound design elements were created in Ableton and REAPER. The visuals were done in Unity. We basically created a VR game and recorded a 360 video of the performance. Carlos Del Castillo did an outstanding job creating an abstract world that had many moments syncing with the musical cues.
Zylia: What are your plans for future? Any interesting projects on your mind?
Yao: My long-term goal would be to establish my company ICTUS as one of the leading experts in the field of spatial audio. We are currently working on an interactive VR music experience called ‘Flow’ with an ethnic ensemble, GAIA, and the visuals are influenced by Chinese water paintings. The organic nature of this project will be a nice contrast to ‘Unraveled’s futuristic space vibe.
Another segment of the company is focused on creating high quality, cinematic spatial audio for VR films and games. We are producing a 3D audio series featuring short horror/thriller stories with music, descriptive narration, dialogues, SFX and soundscapes. Empathy is truly at the heart of this project, some of our stories will have a humanitarian purpose and we will be associated with many organizations that are fighting to end domestic abuse, human trafficking, rape, abuse and other violent crimes. We hope to bring more awareness and traffic to these causes with our art. Spatial audio is incredibly powerful, it really allows you to be in the shoe of the victims and without the visuals, I swear your imagination will go crazy!
In this short interview our Brand Ambassador Gene Torres describes his experiences with ZYLIA microphone and provides insights on recording his gigs and live performances.
Zylia: Gene, this is our second interview. Last time we talk you were testing a prototype of ZYLIA mic (the first interview). Now you are the owner of your own ZYLIA ZM-1 mic. Do you like it?
Gene: Hello, nice to chat with you again!
ZM-1, as far as I’m concerned, is a game changer in terms of recording rehearsals & gigs. I do like it, the possibilities are endless.
Zylia: How do you use ZYLIA recording studio?
Gene: I mainly use it for gigs & rehearsals. Jorge Sylvester a sax player and composer wants me to record a solo bunch of tunes that he wants to release!
>>Jorge Sylvester web page
Matter of fact, he just did a performance based on Eric Dolphy’s music. If you scroll down the above link, you can hear some of the show.
Performance of Gene Torres, Jorge Sylvester and Nora McCarthy doing The Re-Imagining Eric Dolphy show.
Zylia: What is so interesting for you in this system? Does it change the way you record your music?
Gene: Yes, it has changed the way I record not just my music but all the gigs that I do!!
I think that very noticeable is the fact that recording set-up time was cut by at least 50 minutes, definitely less set-up time is required. Within 10 minutes I’m up and running. When I had my two 8-channel computer interfaces there was at least 16 input cables that had to be plugged in. Not any more!
Recorded live performance. Rhonda Denet and the Silver Fox Trio. Mixed Company.
Zylia: You play with many NY musicians, what is their opinion?
Gene: Once, just out of curiosity, I counted the number of groups I was going to work with, either 6 months back or 6 months forward to a specific date... I counted up to 30 groups/bands!
Their opinion is they freak out cause the ZM-1 has the either Red or Blue led ring around it that glows, so they asked what the heck is that! :-) Once I explain what the ZM-1 is and what it does, they usually ask a million questions!!
Gene Torres, Andy Friedberg and Mike Campenni
Zylia: We are very happy that you decided to be our Ambassador and share with other musicians your knowledge and experiences using ZYLIA.
Gene: Once I received the ZM-1 I felt that the world of NYC needs to know what Zylia came out with and how good it is!!
Zylia: Do you have any plans for future? Any interesting gigs are coming?
Gene: I am going to record a solo recording of Saxophonist Jorge Sylvester when we both can work our schedules out!
I’m trying to finally release a CD as a band-leader. One of the things I want to record is a bunch of tunes with minimal direction but strictly improve. So the CD will have 1/3 originals, 1/3 covers but arranged, and 1/3 improve tunes!
Be on the lookout for it!