Les objets obscurs

Åke Parmerud / Åke Parmerud

  • Year of composition: 1991
  • Duration: 14:43
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T9118616005


Les objets obscurs [Hidden Objects] was composed during an intensive period in the summer of 1991 in the Studio 116 of the Ina-GRM in Paris (France). Since I was invited to do a piece at this very honorable institution, it was natural to do something that related closely to the historical tradition represented by the GRM. The concept as well as material and compositional methods lie within the basic framework of classical musique concrète. Through its lyrics the piece is self-explanatory, but some background information may still come in handy. Les objets obscurs is a set of riddles partly describing the physical object producing the sounding material and partly describing some aspect of the musical content of each movement. The answer to these riddles may be found in each of the four movements. It works like this: a short text is read (in French) presenting the riddle, immediately followed by a movement, the musical equivalent of the riddle. Each movement is based on sounds and transformations of sounds produced by one single everyday object (like a chair, a glass…). One movement — one object. In the end of the last movement the ‘solution’ of all the riddles is presented. These answers, however, set up a new ‘inner’ riddle, to which no answer is given.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, listen to the hidden objects!

The first is the point from which an enigma arises.

The second: A walking landscape. A perpetual displacement. Something that grazes without touching. An aimless movement. An object of rest.

The third: Convex bodies thrown into a series of collisions. Hazardous movements on irregular surfaces. Something that is loved without loving. Something that comes together and scatters immediately.

The fourth: The union between the first and the last. The first being the origin of the enigma. The last, the dissolution of the first.

The solution: the first is a lock; the second is a chair; the third is twenty-two stone marbles; the fourth is both voice and language, and the enigma of hidden objects is… Music.”

[English translation of the original French text.]


Les objets obscurs was realized in July of 1991 in the Studio 116 of the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM) in Paris (France) and premiered on October 27, 1992 in the Grand Auditorium of the Maison de Radio France (Paris, France). The piece was commissioned by the Ina-GRM. Thanks to: Dominique Andrieux (recorded narration). Les objets obscurs was awarded 2nd prize at the 2nd Prix international Noroit-Léonce Petitot (Arras, France, 1991) and a Prize at the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition (France, 1993).



  • October 27, 1992, Son-Mu 92: Concert, Grand Auditorium — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)