Sacre bleu!

When the Lewis University music department posted an open call soliciting fixed media works on the theme of The Rite of Spring, I interpreted it as less a collegial invitation than a taunt and a provocation. In the wake of a century's worth of criticism, analysis and legend, what more was there to say about Le Sacre du Printemps? How could a meta-work not suffer by comparison to that breathtakingly original modernist masterpiece? Paralyzed with fear, confusion, and self-loathing, I turned to the words of Henri Quittard, music critic for Le Figaro who attended the May 31, 1913 premiere, for inspiration. Sizing up the ballet as une barbarie laborieuse et puérile ("a laborious and puerile barbarity"), M. Quittard observed that history often proves the judgments of critics wrong, but in this case it probably wouldn't. Bingo.

If M. Quittard were alive to today, I'd show him what "laborious and puerile" really means. Sacre bleu is a note-for-note MIDI transcription of the final section of the score, the Danse sacrale (L'Élue), with each pitch mapped to a socially inappropriate but legal public domain audio sample. While not exactly a sacrificial dance of the chosen virgin, the work captures the gentle, wistful, and romantic charm of Mother Russia.

Play mp3: Sacre bleu!