Bassines, périphérique et chasse gardée

Basins, ring road and private hunting ground

sound installation - 2003/2006


Eight percussion instruments – a cymbal, a timpani, a lithophone, a piece of wood, a red rubber band, a tagine cooking vessel, three marimba blades and eight flower pots are laid out in a circle and hanging in semi-darkness. Attached to the ceiling right above them, a network of cables and pipes is connected to a machine filled with water and composed of 24 drippers. Controlled by a computer playing a digital sheet music (Midi file, read by the software Max/MSP), the machine causes the water to drip on the percussion items hanging just below. The water drops fall as dictated by the music score, creating a real musical composition for water drops. The acoustic sounds produced by the percussion tools are amplified and broadcast through four loud speakers. There is no sound processing, or playing of recorded music, but only the sound of the impact of the drops. The water gradually fills up buckets as the music plays, and for sure, at some point, the buckets will have to be emptied.

Dropper01 interprets a swarming and vibrating composition in five movements :
Bassines, périphérique et chasse gardée (Basins, ring road and private hunting ground).
1st movement : Bouc en course (Goat in a race)

2nd movement : Tajine pour Sabine (Tajine for Sabine)

3rd movement: Petite mélodie (Little melody)

4th movement : Bassines à Bali (Basins in Bali)

5th movement : Suite pour Pau en forme d'élastique (Suite for Pau in a rubber band shape)

>> CD audio

Nothing is hidden out of view. Everything is there with a strikingly obvious presence. Simple objects, light, a robotic mechanism laid bare, a computer on a table and water. The pure and naked presence of the architecture imposes itself through the silence as through the music. Dropper01’s beauty is akin to that of a Romanesque church.

The patient craftsmanship (from the stonemasonry to the setting of the electronic sensors) gives life to a new instrument, monumental and poetic, on the narrow ridge where music merges with technology and visual arts. Here, music and technology are going in the same direction, expanding sound matter, searching for textures and timbres, giving an intensely visual and poetic form to digital and acoustic music writing.

And thus does Arno Fabre’s first composition for
Dropper01, "Bassines, périphérique et chasse gardée" hold the memory of a stroll in the woods next to a bypass road. Arno and his girlfriend Sabine happened to be walking through a damp clearing when they came upon, hidden under the autumn leaves, several washing-up bowls and a sign reading "Chasse gardée" (private hunting ground), rusted from the rain. In the dizzying sound of the bypass road below them, the memory of water dripping into buckets when it rained in the attic had resurfaced. Immemorial memory of huge percussion played by the rain. Coming back now too the thunder and the rain, the ebb and flow of the waves on the sand, the gurgling sound of water running down the pipes, the crash of the waves breaking against the dike on stormy days, the sound of peeing in water, the running-down of a tear, the drip-drop of an old tap, the roar of the flush, the jumping in puddles, the rain trickling down the window panes. Memories flowing back, of Balinese gamelan, of Ligeti’s Kammerkonzert and Bach's motets.

The musical composition of "
Bassines, périphérique et chasse gardée” resembles a large pointillist drawing, an imprint of rain onto the imagination of a composer. The latter invites us to follow him through the looking-glass. The "invitation au voyage" is instantaneous. There, no giant rabbit, no lewd snails, but a very real fantasy world in which we move all antennas erect.

Nicolas Charlet, Saint-Faust, on January 8, 2008.



design, realization and musical composition > arno fabre
assistant > sabine petit and olivier bruggeman
electronic design > interfaceZ - francis bras
prototype mechanism > art sensitif - jean-noêl montagné
production >
le fresnoy - philippe lefresne and isabelle bohnke
thanks to the fresnoy's team and particularly to éric prigent
diffusion >


Dropper01 - production of Le Fresnoy, studio national des arts contemporains - 2003.
Bassines, périphérique et chasse gardée - commissioned by accès(s) and the Pôle culturel intercommunal CDA Pau-Pyrénées - 2006.