A dancing tribute to filmmaker Norman McLaren
At any given moment, hundreds of people are listening to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at the same time. I Heard There Was a Secret Chord creates a metaphysical connection between them through a sensory experience, in an attempt to demystify this universal hymn.
Touring Installation Since 2017
Singing in a group brings about visceral universal emotions, humming, on the other hand, creates a musical vibration inside the body. I Heard There Was a Secret Chord merges the two sensations and provides the public a moment of communal contemplation on the universal, quasi-mystical quality of Hallelujah.
The piece consists of a room and a website. Both continuously broadcast Hallelujah’s melody, hummed by a virtual choir. This choir of humming voices is directly impacted by the visitors. Whether they are listening online or in-situ, the number of voices heard increases and decreases as a result of their presence. The fluctuating number is displayed in real time.
The room is an octagonal floor with a series of suspended microphones. Unexpectedly, the microphones are not meant to record or project voices; they are used to transform voices into vibrations. When one hums into a microphone, the sound makes the floor vibrate. The vibrations increase in intensity as more people join the choir.
The website operates like a single-song radio station, fluctuating with the amount of listeners. Anybody can join the choir of I Heard There Was a Secret Chord and feel the universal magic of Hallelujah wherever they are.
To create the humming version of Hallelujah and the interactive choir of I Heard There Was a Secret Chord, Daily tous les jours collaborated with seven amateur and professional Montreal choirs. For two weeks, we transformed Tetra SoundLab into a humming factory. The result was 635 recordings with 1250 different voices.
Created in 2017, I Heard There Was a Secret Chord was a commission from the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada. The installation was created for the Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibition during Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, one year after the musician’s passing. The exhibition is now touring the world.