Skip to main Skip to sidebar

Michel Risse

Creative Director, Compagnie Décor Sonore
Spring 2022

  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • New York

“The Cloudspeaker (Le Son qui vient du Ciel) literally creates the city’s rumblings: the urban space becomes an arena of elusive tones that seem to rush through the streets, emanate from the facades, and melt into the existing soundscape.”

My troupe, Décor Sonore, sees the city as a breeding ground for sound creations. It provides a unique listening experience of the world by drawing inspiration from urban resonances, from the natural and industrial harmonies that make up our day-to-day city life. These unique creations offer a new perception of our sound environment and reinvent our relation to music.

Ever since Instrument|Monument (2004), all the troupe’s creations are meant to reveal urban set designs, landscapes, and our sound culture. Whether they are turning urban objects into instruments, inviting us to rediscover our domestic everyday items by listening to them, or exploring sounds of the past, all these audio and musical creations implicitly highlight the sensitive world of our sound culture. They do not just offer new tones, but also new contexts and ways of listening to everything that surrounds us.

Having used monumental sculptures (Les Kaléidophones, 2016) to invite the public to listen to the existing soundscape, we would now like to slip into this soundscape imperceptibly, but with the same aim: to change the way we hear the city and invite people to listen to the environment like a musical composition so that its poetry emerges.

Michel Risse is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and electro-acoustician. He studied music and percussion and has played in many rock and jazz groups alongside a wide range of artists (Moondog, Vince Taylor, Angel Parra, Nicolas Frize, Herbe Rouge, Grand Orchestre Bekummernis, etc.). Starting in 1972, he started composing his first “sound decors” and began setting up electro-acoustic installations for public places. These experiments led him to create, with Pierre Sauvageot, the troupe Décor Sonore in 1986, for which he is now the creative director.

Décor Sonore is a unique creative group in sound composition and theatrical production, specializing in free-space sound creation. The troupe offers unique public performances that combine theater and musical design. It is also a place for collaborative construction, open to creators from other artistic disciplines: a center for reflecting and experimenting where original spaces and systems for projecting sound are invented, and a center for teaching and raising awareness of our sound environment.

The Cloudspeaker (Le Son qui vient du Ciel) literally creates the city’s rumblings: the urban space becomes an arena of elusive tones that seem to rush through the streets, emanate from the facades, and melt into the existing soundscape. Powerful loudspeakers installed very high up (a tower, a crane) project the sound creation, which is always contextual and made up of features gleaned on site, in partnership with local residents and stakeholders.

The sound lighthouse system projects an audio composition in every direction. This composition is in dialogue with the existing soundscape: those routine sounds we all hear but never listen to, those forming the chaos of the urban soundscape. By drawing inspiration from these sounds, by organizing them, by disguising them with processing techniques, we project an audio creation that brings order to this chaos. But it also arouses the curiosity of passersby intrigued by the strange familiarity of these audio tricks. It is more about introducing new species, creating new markers and vanishing points, and offering new forms of biodiversity than futilely hiding the city with other sounds or reducing it to silence.

During our residency at Villa Albertine, we will be exploring interactions between sounds from the sky and the population, and the questions raised by this concept. How are the sounds we import into the existing soundscape perceived? What are the boundaries between sound, noise, and music? How do we understand forms and chaos in our sound environment? What constitutes quality, aesthetics, and a soundscape in our sound environment?

Décor Sonore will be based in New York City. Two vital, precious ingredients in The Cloudspeaker (Le Son qui vient du Ciel) can fortunately be found everywhere in this city: noise and skyscrapers. Several sites lend themselves to the project. The site should combine the possibility of placing the audio installation in a dominant position and the possibility of vanishing points. These attributes can be found on the banks of the Hudson River and on the East River, in Manhattan, Brooklyn or on Roosevelt Island, for instance, or close to a park. These sites would offer a wide range of acoustic spaces and the chance to wander them by foot, far enough from the flow of traffic.

We are curious to hear the sound creation reflected in New York’s streets and squares, and to reveal the specific architecture of this city in an original way.

The relation with local residents will be crucial: we will invite them to explore the concept alongside us, forming a kind of soundscape observatory.

We will also examine how rumors about these unusual sound concepts are born and develop. We will invite local residents to amplify these rumors beyond New York by sharing news of it on social media.

Lastly, we will be relying on partners: professional or amateur musicians spread over public spaces who will enter into dialogue with these sounds from the sky.

In partnership with

Lieux Publics

Historically the first national creation centre in France, created in 1986, Lieux publics was awarded the label “Centre National des Arts de la Rue et de l’Espace Public (CNAREP)” in 2017, and also obtained the designation “Pôle européen de production” that same year. Lieux publics is a place of creation and production, a shelter for artists and companies who utilize the city as the place, the object and the subject of their creations. Since 2003, the structure has been piloting the European network IN SITU. 


Learn more

Related content

Sign up to receive exclusive news and updates