I Heard There Was a Secret Chord is a participatory humming experience that reveals the invisible vibration uniting people around the world listening to “Hallelujah” at the same time. Real-time user data representing these listeners is transformed into a virtual choir of humming voices that participants can hum along with and feel the collective resonance.
I Heard There Was a Secret Chord is a participatory humming experience that connects people around the world listening to Leonard Cohen’s anthemic classic, “Hallelujah.”
The installation at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) consists of a low platform situated inside a large, eight-sided room with speakers mounted on its walls. Eight microphones are suspended around the perimeter of the platform. Low, indirect lighting and soft design features create a calming and intimate environment. Overhead, a display indicates the number of people currently listening to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” on YouTube and Spotify.
Visitors access the space through a narrow entrance that minimizes the amount of external noise and light. As they enter, they hear a virtual choir of multiple voices, humming in harmony in different areas in the room. The voices and their locations subtly change each time the number on the display fluctuates, coinciding with the beginning or end of someone, somewhere in the world, listening to “Hallelujah.”
Stepping onto the platform, visitors feel a subtle vibration: the bass accompaniment to the song is being played through surface transducers mounted under the platform. The visitors notice the microphones hanging within easy reach above the platform, and when they hum in close proximity to or directly into a microphone, following the lead of the virtual choir, they feel the vibrations beneath them increase in response to the intensity of the humming.
The online experience is, in essence, a one-song radio channel that allows people anywhere in the world to tune into the same, perpetually fluctuating choir of humming voices, and to connect with the magic of Cohen’s artistry. It is the only online experience featured in the entire Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Une brèche en toute chose exhibition.
I Heard There Was a Secret Chord was created by Daily tous les jours. It is a Musée d’art contemporain de
Montréal/National Film Board of Canada and Daily tous les jours co-production.
Mouna Andraos (Daily tous les jours)
Melissa Mongiat (Daily tous les jours)
Hugues Sweeney (NFB)
Victor Shiffman (MAC)
Daily tous les jours
Recognized for the collective creative experiences it presents in public spaces, Daily tous les jours is a design studio whose primary focus is finding new ways to interact and tell stories. Ranging from small to large scale, its projects combine participation, design and technology, and take many forms: objects, urban planning and installations, exhibitions, social interventions, events, software applications and films. Daily tous les jours won the grand prize at the Interaction Design Awards and at the Shenzen Design Awards for 21 Balançoires. Its cofounders, Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, have garnered several awards in Europe and the US for their creations. Daily tous les jours also created the unique public-art installation Choreographies for Humans and Stars, specifically designed for the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, and an interactive work for McLaren Wall-toWall (NFB/Quartier des Spectacles Partnership), a public pathway marking the 100th anniversary in 2014 of the birth of master animator Norman McLaren.
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC)
Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) makes today’s art a vital part of Montréal and Québec life. For more than fifty years, this vibrant museum has brought together local and international artists, their works and an ever-growing public. It is also a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring. The MAC presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists who provide their own particular insight into our society, as well as exhibitions of works drawn from the museum’s extensive Permanent Collection. These may feature any and every form of expression: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more. In addition to its wide range of educational activities familiarizing the general public with contemporary art, the MAC organizes unique artistic performances and festive events. It is a window onto a myriad of avant-garde expressions that extend the reach of art throughout the city and beyond.