Track listing detail

Le prisonnier du son

Michel Chion / Michel Chion

  • Year of composition: 1972, 85
  • Duration: 34:35
  • Form: concrète melodrama
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: Ina-GRM
  • ISWC: T0030238915


During the period when I composed Le prisonnier du son (The Prisonner of Sound), I was easily captivated by the sounds from loudspeakers and submerged in their abundance, from which arose the romantic idea to explicitly treat this impasse by more or less comic or serious episodes and by placing and directing a hero in the same situation. This was also a dramatic project in which the voice is no longer the vehicle of a text or narration but the incarnation of a character who lives and speaks in the present, who right before us does battle with sounds and is immersed in these sounds. The production of this piece was for me, paradoxically, a liberating gesture, as much in the sense of expression as in its duration and its sonic orchestration.

It is this form of the monodrama, excluding the dialogue between two voices and situating the human individual in a world of sounds, which I called an electroacoustic melodrama or concrète melodrama, and returned to this several times after with Diktat in 1979, Tu in 1977, La Tentation de saint Antoine, in 1984, and Nuit noire, in 1985. But while Flaubert served as librettist (involuntarily) for La Tentation…, all of the text of Le prisonnier du son was, if one could say, ‘orally written,’ in a face-off with the sounds, as if these very sounds were alive.


Le prisonnier du son premiered on May 19, 1972 at the Musée Guimet in Paris (France) during a concert organized by the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM). It was reworked in 1985 to create this definitive version which premiered on March 22, 1985 at the Centre culturel Noroit in Arras (France). Le prisonnier du son was commissioned by the Groupe de recherches musicales (Ina-GRM), written, realized and performed by the composer in the studios of the Ina-GRM. Voice of the opening credits: Agnès Tanguy.


  • May 19, 1972, Concert, Musée Guimet, Paris (France)
  • March 22, 1985, Premiere of the final version: Concert, Centre culturel Noroit, Arras (Pas-de-Calais, France)



  • 1985

Vingt-quatre préludes à la vie

Michel Chion / Christiane Sacco Zagaroli

  • Year of composition: 1989-90
  • Duration: 42:17
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Commission: French State (Music Office), Ina-GRM


“He cried out in a loud voice: Lazarus, come out! And the dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a shroud.”

— John, 11, 43-44

The 24 préludes à la vie (24 Preludes to Life) conceived, along with Dix études de musique concrète, 1988, Variations, 1990, and the Sonate, 1990, as part of a series of works of a technical character, formal and demonstrative, its purpose being to illustrate the resources of musique concrète and especially to explore the possibilities of concision appropriate to this means of expression, to fight against its distinct tendencyand mineto become stagnant. More colorful and diversified than the Dix études de musique concrète, which tend to be graphic draughts, the 24 préludes à la vie once again take up abstract and pictorial inspiration while at the same time being inspired in their form by the homonymous collection of Frédéric Chopin: a unified group of short pieces of very varying dimensions, from the sketch of several notes to more developed excursions.

In keeping with the above requirements, the work revealed itself during the course of composition to be for me a sort of echo of the Requiem and other preceding works and assumed a particular meaning that I could summarize by these four words: “Despite all, the Joy.” A religious meaning — provided that one understands this word outside of religious institutions.

The evangelical episode of the resurrection of Lazarus, already evoked in the Requiem, inspired certain pieces, notably the first and last, and the fifth prelude Éveil (Awakening) makes reference to the trembling which John mentions that Jesus experienced before the tomb of his friend.

“It is about life. About being alive, in flesh and in spirit.”

Christiane Sacco Zagaroli

24 préludes à la vie was commissioned by the French State (Music Office) and the Ina-GRM (Paris) and realized in its studios. The text of the 24th prelude is by Christiane Sacco Zagaroli and is spoken by Cécile Sacco. The work premiered in a preliminary version of 20 movements on April 10, 1989 during a concert of the Cycle acousmatique series (produced by the GRM in Paris), and in its complete version on May 31, 1990, during the Semaine festival organized by the Groupe de musiques vivantes de Lyon (GMVL) at Villa Gillet. 24 préludes à la vie is in 2 books. First book: Linceul [Shroud]; Libera me; Aux morts [To the Dead]; La Piazza; Éveil [Awakening]; Dans la nurserie [In the Nursery]; Chant simple [Simple Song]; La source [The Spring]; Oubli [Forgotten]; Matines [Matins]; Danse de l’Ombre [Dance of the Shadow]; Qu’est-ce que? [What is?]. Second book: Ronde de nuit [Song In The Night]; En songe [In a Dream]; Sursauts [Startled]; Les pleurs [Tears]; Des hauts et des bas [Highs and Lows]; Terre et ciel [Earth and Heaven]; À Pierre Schaeffer [To Pierre Schaeffer]; Tumulte [Uproar]; Le couple [The Couple]; Rêve de valse [Waltz Dream]; Annonce [Declaration]; Nous sommes vivants [We are Alive].


  • April 10, 1989, Cycle acousmatique 1989: Concert, Grand Auditorium — Maison de Radio France, Paris (France)