Works Charlotte and Corday and the Lament of Louis XVI Roger Doyle

Charlotte and Corday and the Lament of Louis XVI

  • Roger Doyle
  • Year of composition: 1989
  • Duration: 25:00
  • Commission: IMEB

“Before I left Ireland for the studios at Bourges I sampled a selection of short drum rolls and patterns in my own studio in Dublin. By playing chords of these samples on the keyboard and adding sampled pipes and trumpets I created an imaginary parade passing through the streets of Paris (Louis XVI on his way to the guillotine). The pipes melody The Lament of Louis XVI, a song from the period. I then asked my eleven year old son Paavo to sing this song for me. The words are: O my people what is it I’ve done / I loved truth I loved justice / Your happinness is all that mattered to me / And now you’re dragging me to my death.

I also asked the actress Olwen Fouere, who had played the part of Charlotte Corday in Peter Weiss’ “Marat/Sade” unforgettably in Dublin years earlier, to read parts of the story of Charlotte Corday — some written by herself and some compiled from Corday letters. She also experimented with her voice and sang a verse from a song of the period about Corday murdering Marat in his bath. Charlotte Corday was guillotined for this.

In Bourges I used a DMX 1000 for the electronic sounds and a vocoder for the vocal transformations (the actual sound of the voice through the vocoder was as important to me as any meaning in the text). A lot of mixing and editing followed. At the end of this composition the ghost of the revolution (in the form of a horse-drawn carriage) passes through the streets of modern Paris.”


Charlotte Corday and the Lament of Louis XVI was recorded at the IMEB studios and at the composer’s studio. It premiered on June 12, 1989 during the Synthèse Festival in Bourges (France). The piece was commissioned by the Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB) to celebrate the bi-centenary of the French Revolution.


  • June 13, 1989, Synthèse 1989: De la Révolution française II: Moments choisis, Bourges (Cher, France)


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