Long Synopsis


The story of Minha Terra will be told in five sections.

Section One: (Alberta – Introduction)

The documentary begins by providing a visual and auditory experience that will give the audience a sense of how everyday sounds are musical, setting the stage for the story and highlighting some of the themes to be explored throughout our journey.

Starting in Albertan cities like Calgary and Fort McMurray, the documentary will highlight the sounds of people and cars and the activity of everyday life. Moving through different soundscapes and environments – bus stations, parks, public buildings, busy streets – we will emphasize the sounds that inspired Nassar’s composition.

The tour of the soundscape ends in an auditorium where Denis is performing at a piano the soundtrack we have heard throughout this introduction. During this section, the major credits are displayed.

As Denis stops playing, the camera moves to Paul Boultbee, the host and narrator of the story. Paul starts this first interview with Denis, where they talk about the idea for his composition and how the concept of transforming speech into music was born and executed.

The two will also discuss the reasoning for why Nassar chose to use Brazilian Portuguese for his work. The conversation will provide the context and serve as a transition as we move into Section Two of the documentary, set in Brazil, where Nassar was born and raised.


Section Two: (Brazil – Regional Dialects – Musical Inspiration)

The documentary will follow Denis and the film crew as they land in southern Brazil, in Pampas Gauchos – the base of the first movement of the composition, followed by a visit to Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, states that inspired the second and third movements of the piece respectively.

As we visit these three locations, the composer will discuss the musical rhythms that influenced him, and unravel the story behind the expressions and dialects used in his composition. We’ll take a closer look at the regional dialects, and examine the culture of each vastly different area.

This section will culminate in an interview with legendary Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist, Hermeto Pascoal – one of Denis’ biggest influences.


Section Three: (Europe and North America – Sitting on the Shoulders of Giants)

The third section begins by following Denis and the crew as they make the trip from Brazil to Europe to interview the acclaimed Austrian composer, professor, lecturer and researcher, Peter Ablinger.

During this part of the trip, Denis will discuss his sense of being privileged to sit on the shoulders of giants, and how these giants of composition have impacted his work.

We’ll also find out what led the Ablinger to compose his piece Voices and Piano, and how he generated complex chords from the spoken voice.

After this, the crew will fly to the United States to talk to other world-renowned composers and musicians that are known for their research and exploration in this area of composition.

Back in Alberta, we’ll have further conversations with local artists and musicians such as Allan Bell – Canadian composer and professor at the University of Calgary.

Continuing his examination of this theme, Denis will talk with his guests about other contemporary methods and techniques for composing music, and get their opinion and feeling about the use of spoken word – this less conventional area of composition.

Interviews will be accompanied by excerpts from the musical works developed by the guest composers, exemplifying their ideas and adding depth to the experience.

Interviews will address not only musical aspects, but also what influenced these composers to look for different ways to express their art and discuss their degree of success in achieving their respective goals.

Section Four: (Transformation – Music and Speech)

In the fourth section, we will go into the studio where Denis recorded and worked with the spoken language samples of the guests featured in his composition. He will talk to his Brazilian friends who wrote and spoke the phrases that provided the foundation for the three movements of the composition.

Denis will describe his creative process and the methodology used to create the parts of each musical instrument and how he transcribed and transformed the spoken voice into music. We will also visit Denis while he works at home in his private studio.


Section Five: (Back in Minha Terra)

This section will feature a collage of footage of the four-year journey as Denis composed Minha Terra, culminating in the performance.

As the documentary wraps up, our narrator will elicit questions as to whether or not the spoken voice can be turned into music. Was Denis’ risk as a composer worth the final result? Will Denis continue on this path of exploration?

 When the orchestra is finished their performance, Denis will approach the front of the stage to address his audience and tell them what this journey to Minha Terra has meant to him as a composer and an artist.

 What will he say? You’ll have to watch to find out.