Influential electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre is set to release a score for photographer Sebastião Salgado’s upcoming exhibition Amazônia on April 7. The 52-minute score will also be available on CD and vinyl on April 9. Jarre’s score soundtracks the exhibit by blending forest nature recordings with electronic and orchestral instrumentation. It was recorded as binaural audio in effort to recreate the sounds more realistically spatially and make the exhibit more immersive.
“I wanted to avoid the ethnomusicological approach, or creating background music,” Jarre stated via press release. “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). 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,” he continued. “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.”
As the name and Jarre’s comments suggest, Salgado’s exhibit is focused on the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. The exhibit features the 200+ photographs, films and other media Salgado has chosen to display from the six years he spent traveling the region. Looking forward, Salgado hopes to encourage people to consider biodiversity and the way humans interact with the rest of the living world.
The exhibition premieres at the Philharmonie de Paris on April 7. It’s due to tour several cities around the world afterward, including Paris, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and London.
Jean-Michel Jarre has been pioneering electronic music since the early 1970s and is best known for releasing boundary-pushing albums such as Oxygène (1976) and Equinoxe (1978). His sound has continued to evolve since then, incorporating elements of synthpop and electronic dance music. However, his most recent albums Oxygène 3 (2016) and Equinoxe Infinity (2018) are continuations on the sounds he was working on for his most acclaimed albums. On New Year’s Eve 2020, he released a live album called Welcome to the Other Side from a virtual Notre-Dame.