Jean-Michel Jarre has released a 52-minute musical score for Amazônia, an immersive exhibition focusing on the Brazilian Amazon by award-winning photographer and filmmaker Sebastião Salgado.
The exhibit will feature more than 200 photographs and other media by Salgado. He traveled the region for six years, capturing the forest, the rivers, the mountains and the people who live there, and most of the work will be seen publicly for the first time. Jean-Michel Jarre provides the soundtrack to the exhibit that will tour the world at some point, when the spaces are open and available to host visitors safely. However, the soundtrack is out now in CD, vinyl and digital, in standard and binaural audio.
The soundtrack is bubbling, fluid and engulfing. It brings together sounds from nature like you are in the jungle, with birds chirping, monkeys, small critters skittering across leaves and the occasional humans singing. There is also a low rumbling in the distance that comes in and out of the soundtrac. This rumbling helps provide an ominous feeling like a dark cloud is approaching of environmental devastation wrought by human encroachment.
“I wanted to avoid the ethnomusicological approach or creating background music. So I conceived a sort of toolbox containing musical elements - orchestral and electronic - intended to recreate or evoke the timbre of natural sounds, to which I added sounds from the environment and finally ethnic sources (voices, songs, and instruments) from the sound archives of the Ethnography Museum of Geneva (MEG),” explains the Frenchman.
“I approached the Amazon with respect, in a poetic and impressionistic way. I chose the vocal and sound elements in their evocative dimension, rather than trying to be faithful to a particular ethnic group. It seemed interesting to me to fantasize the forest. It carries with it a powerful imagination, for both Westerners and Amerindians. This music also evokes a form of nomadism, as if sounds appear and disappear during a migration. It was necessary to go back to the principles of orchestration of the sounds of nature, to work from sounds which follow one another randomly, but which can compose a harmony or a dissonance. As in any symphony, the work has moments of clarity or tension.”
Jarre says he composed the project all in one day and night.
"I composed Amazonia in one go, day and night, in front of these photos scrolling in a loop in front of me, immersing myself in this immensity, familiar and mysterious, serene and disturbing, powerful and vulnerable... This addictive and fatal drug. Sebastiao Salgado's forest.”
Listen to the project below and hopefully the exhibition will be able soon. It will open at the Philharmonie de Paris in Paris, then travel to the Maxxi in Rome, SESC Pompeia in São Paulo, Museu Do Amanha in Rio De Janeiro and the Science Museum in London at dates TBC. Get your copy here and listen in regular or Biaural audio.