The work is based entirely on the bells of the Basilica in Quebec City as recorded by the World Soundscape Project at Simon Fraser University during a cross-country tour in 1973. The three bells are heard at their original pitch, as well as an octave lower and a twelfth higher, but all of these versions are stretched in time, often to twenty or more times their original duration. The extended versions allow the listener to hear out the inner harmonics inside the bells, and in moving inside the sound it seems as if we are entering the large volume of the church itself.
The piece is an elaboration of a section of the composer's work Dominion (1991), for chamber ensemble and two digital soundtracks, which is based on soundmarks from all across Canada.
Basilica is available on the Cambridge Street Records CD Song of Songs.
Sound Example available
* Note: an 8-channel version of this work is available, created with the DM-8 computer-controlled diffusion system.
Technical note: The work was realized using the composer's PODX system which uses the DMX-1000 Digital Signal Processor controlled by a PDP Micro-11 computer. The principal signal processing technique involves time stretching of the sampled environmental sound with software for real-time granular synthesis developed by the composer in the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University. Sound densities around 250 events/second were recorded on 8-track tape and mixed down in the Sonic Research Studio at SFU.