Forêt profonde

Francis Dhomont

  • Year of composition: 1994-96
  • Duration: 58:32
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: French State (Music Office), Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T0031001189


ISRC CAD509692390

To my mother

Forêt profonde (Deep Forest) is an acousmatic melodrama, based on Bruno Bettelheim’s essay The Uses of Enchantment (Alfred A Knof / Random House, New York 1976), of which this is the third version; an extensively modified version, almost double in length compared to earlier versions. Forêt profonde is a work that has accompanied me for the past fifteen years, and its final production required more than two years.

Begun thirteen years after Sous le regard d’un soleil noir, Forêt profonde also derives its inspiration from a psychoanalytic reflection. An adult reading of children tales that moves between the memory of my naïve wonder and the discovery of its secret mechanisms. This hesitating between two ages perhaps presents the risk of failing to reach either one; but it is nevertheless possible for the magical intuition of childhood, that always sleeps in us with one eye open, to revive buried revelations, and for the rational mind to delight in deciphering, under the manifest content of this universal unconscious, the logic of its latent content.

It is a listening on three levels — novelistic, symbolic, musical — more disconcerting no doubt, but more active than an unidimensional listening.

The human journey of Bruno Bettelheim, whose thoughts are behind this star shaped course, interferes, for obvious reasons, with these old stories that confront us with questions on our time.

A guided tour of the childhood soul, which is nothing more than a return to the initiatory world — both cruel and reassuring — of fairy tales.

Forêt profonde comprises 13 sections, of which the 6 “Rooms” (sections 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 and 12) constitute transit periods/areas, secret passages of sort, between the seven thematic sections (sections 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13). These “Rooms” contain little or no text.

Each of the 13 sections borrows a brief element, a colour, an atmosphere, from the 13 Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) op. 15 from Schumann, as a tribute to this pathetic composer, engulfed in the depth of his forest.

I wish to thank Inés Wickmann Jaramillo for offering me a poetic Colombian sound recording, and Beatriz Ferreyra for allowing me in such friendly manner to borrow a short but colourful excerpt from her Petit Poucet magazine (1985).

Forêt profonde was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris). A bursary from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA) (category A) was awarded for the composition of the work. Most of the materials and the treatments were obtained through the Syter (real-time sound synthesis system) at the Ina-GRM, and the piece was realized at the composer’s studio in Montréal (Québec). The present final version premiered on June 8, 1996 during a concert presented by ACREQ (Association pour la création et la recherche électroacoustiques du Québec) at Usine C in Montréal. The two first versions (36:00 and 37:00) were premiered respectively in Paris on May 16, 1994 during the Cycle acousmatique Son-Mu of the Ina-GRM, in the Salle Olivier Messiaen of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France), and on September 1, 1995 at the Futura Festival of Acousmatic Art in Crest (France).

The piece was awarded the “Prix de la meilleure création contemporaine électroacoustique” (best contemporary electroacoustic work) of the Prix de Printemps 2007 organized by Sacem.


  • May 16, 1994, Son-Mu 94: Concert, Salle Olivier Messiaen — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)
  • September 1, 1995, Futura 95: Concert portrait 3, Salle municipale, Crest (Drôme, France)
  • June 8, 1996, Premiere of the final version: Deux temps, trois mouvements, Usine C, Montréal (Québec)