(AFP) – Conduct a virtual orchestra or improvise as a rocker: the Children’s Philharmonic, which opens its doors on Wednesday, offers 4-10 year olds a musical initiation journey that is both intuitive and fun.
“We are in an experience where the child is the driving force; he has fun while learning”, declares Laurent Bayle, outgoing director of the Philharmonie de Paris, which is at the initiative of this project. Built on 1,000 square meters within the parent institution, the space cost 10 million euros financed by the public and the private sector.
“Forest of sounds”
The first of the five islands on offer is not exactly what you would expect: there are pots, a kitchen whisk, a drainer or even a brush …
“Children will discover the stamp of everyday objects there,” Mathilde Michel-Lambert, director general of the Philharmonie des enfants, told AFP.
They also experience “the difference in the pitch of sound between large and small objects”, go “sound hunting” in the walls of a cave using a connected torch and connect sounds from the city or country to landscapes appearing on a screen.
This is the hall of imaginary instruments: a “wind giant” – an organ system that emits three different notes when you sit on it -; a “music box” where children drop a ball onto claves (a percussion instrument) using a crank; imaginary stringed instruments that we “pinch, strike and rub” and a “drum machine” where, using connected wooden pucks, we create an arrangement of the sound of cymbals, bass drum ….
“On stage !”
This will probably be the island of success: two rooms, one dedicated to current music, the other to a symphony orchestra, allow children to rub shoulders with the world of the stage, even with a dressing room to prepare and a “living room” where they can listen to extracts of jazz music.
In the rock club, children pick up simplified instruments (electric guitar, electric piano keyboard, percussions, etc.), the strings and keys of which are in colors.
“Without having any prior knowledge of deciphering, they see a graphic score scrolling on a screen which will indicate to them, thanks to colored balls, which string or key to play”, according to Ms. Michel-Lambert.
In front of an imitation symphony orchestra, the little ones will discover the tempo and intensity of the sound thanks to software developed by a subsidiary of the IRCAM research center.
“Directing” pieces pre-recorded by the Orchester de Paris, such as the Nutcracker for example, the child performs gestures read by an infrared camera. “The faster his gestures, the faster the music will play and vice versa. And the larger his gestures, the louder the music will play,” explains the director.
“Voices by the Thousands”
Another flagship installation of this Philharmonie, a huge “world map-cabin” designed with the Belgian comic book author Brecht Evens, one of the many collaborators of the project (Wladimir Anselme, Kaori Ito, BabX, Pierrick Sorin …).
Outside, we press keys to listen to a Buddhist chanting from Tibet, a melancholic poem from Turkey or improvisations from other regions. Inside, children listen to lullabies in different languages, “to make them aware of the musical richness of the world”.
In this same island, children can have fun listening to their voices transformed into the voice of an alien, a robot, a mouse or as if it came from a cave or the seabed. They can also engage in an imitation match of recorded vocalizations.
“This way the music”
To conclude the journey staged by Constance Guisset, a “composer” will play a “composition” by the child who will have chosen melodies and rhythmic accompaniments on rollers. On another installation, he will have fun choosing sound effects for silent films that scroll across a screen.
Children will be provided with an electronic bracelet which will allow them to retrieve video and photo memories from the internet.